Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Trump administration proposes amazing solution for food stamp recipients

The fact is that the food stamp program is a transfer of tax dollars to the food retail industry. That is serviced by providing heavily marked up product to the end user.

Obviously moving food directly from prime producers to prime consumers eliminates immediately all that overage built in and it is completely viable in today's economy. Better yet we have an army of potential volunteers as well in the recipients that can be readily organized. Even to the point of providing a level of customer customization.

It all needs assembly sheds and bins. Food banks have been doing something like this but this will be much bigger.

It is certainly an excellent way to dispose of the cheese surplus as well to a customer base who is priced out of the cheese market in the first instance.

Computer power provides actual order sheets as well to facilitate efficiency.

Trump administration proposes amazing solution for food stamp recipients: American-grown “Harvest Box” food deliveries to our poorest families

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 by: Mike Adams

Tags: compassion, food stamps, food supply, fresh food, goodfood, goodhealth, Harvest Box, poverty, President Trump, SNAP program, USDA

(Natural News) The Trump administration is truly reforming America one program at a time with innovative, “genius” ideas that benefit everyone. Trump’s latest innovation? The USDA “Harvest Box” idea. Here’s how it works:

Under the “Harvest Box” program, food stamp recipients who are currently spending their government SNAP money would receive halfof that credit in fresh food items that are grown in America and delivered to their door. This cuts out the retailers, transaction fees and other inefficiencies of the SNAP program, bringing fresh, healthful foods straight to the people who need it most (while saving the taxpayers money at the same time). The other half of the food stamp credits would continue to appear on recipients’ EBT cards, to be used under their own discretion (as is the current arrangement).

This program would achieve numerous positive benefits for America. First, the program brings people real, fresh food that can improve health and even help prevent chronic disease. Secondly, it supports America’s farmers by choosing USA-grown food. Thirdly, it cuts out the retailers and banks that currently siphon billions of dollars a year out of the SNAP program.

Sadly, Leftists are already attacking this brilliant solution solely because it came from the Trump administration

Because so many people in America today have been brainwashed to hate President Trump, they automatically (and irrationally) hate everything they think he proposes. But when the exact same program is described as something from Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders or even Hillary Clinton, most left-leaning people suddenly love the idea.

The “Harvest Box” program is, indeed, a truly brilliant idea put forth by the Trump administration. It would be run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and has been dubbed a “blue apron” program. USDA Budget Director Mick Mulvaney had this to say about the program:

USDA America’s Harvest Box is a bold, innovative approach to providing nutritious food to people who need assistance feeding themselves and their families — and all of it is homegrown by American farmers and producers. It maintains the same level of food value as SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] participants currently receive, provides states flexibility in administering the program, and is responsible to the taxpayers.

Fox 8 of Cleveland describes the program as follows:

Instead of receiving all their food stamp funds, households would get a box of food that the government describes as nutritious and 100% grown and produced in the U.S. The so-called USDA America’s Harvest Box would contain items such as shelf-stable milk, juice, grains, cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans, canned meat, poultry or fish, and canned fruits and vegetables. The box would be valued at about half of the SNAP recipient’s monthly benefit. The remainder of their benefits would be given to them on electronic benefit cards, as before.

Leftists immediately attacked the idea with irrational stupidity

Because the idea was promoted by the Trump administration, it was of course immediately attacked by brainwashed, hate-filled Leftists who are now so filled with seething anger, they can’t even think straight. Remember, left-wing people automatically hate everything they think came from Trump, regardless of the merits of the program.

“It’s a risky scheme that threatens families’ ability to put food on the table,” said Stacy Dean, vice president for food assistance policy at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

How, exactly, is delivering fresh food to America’s poorest families a “risky scheme?” It isn’t. But that’s how it’s being described by Leftists because they hate the idea of any Trump program actually working (in the same way they hated Trump’s amazingly successful tax cuts that are already spurring business expansion and increased take-home paychecks all across the country).

Remember: Liberals automatically hate everything that Trump proposes, even if it’s a brilliant idea like the USDA Harvest Box program.

I think the Harvest Box program is fantastic, regardless of who came up with it

I love the idea of bringing fresh, American-grown food straight to the people who need it most. Don’t you know the EBT program is riddled with abuse and fraud? Many people trade EBT credits for crack, heroin or sex. EBT cards (food stamp cards) have become a kind of “barter system” of widespread fraud, all across America. Via Natural News:

Arizona authorities have broken up a massive food stamp fraud ring in Phoenix and seized almost $700,000 in cash. K&S convenience store workers Kameel Sweiss, Ameer Sweiss, and Faday Sweiss were arrested on Wednesday on charges of suspicion of illegally conducting an enterprise, fraudulent schemes and artifices, money laundering, unlawful use of food stamps, and computer tampering. “People were essentially selling their cards to [the] store,” said spokesperson Stephanie Grisham.

That’s why we need a better system that actually brings people FOOD, not financial credits. After all, if the idea of the food stamp program is to bring people food, then why not just bring them food? Doh!

Only a moron could hate the idea of a food stamp program that brings people real food. Wasn’t the entire purpose of the program to make sure people don’t starve to death in America?

An even better idea, of course, would be to teach people how to grow their own food in local gardens. And the best idea of all would be to require food stamp recipients to attend home-grown gardening classes so they can learn a skill, gain some self-reliance and one day have the ability to at least augment their food supply with home-grown foods.

Influential Democrats, of course, HATE those ideas because they teach self-reliance rather than lifelong government dependence. To left-wing Big Government zealots, they want the masses to remain impoverished, ignorant and utterly helpless, making them easy prey for being “rescued” with left-leaning welfare handouts and government dependence.

That’s why Leftists hate the idea of the USDA bringing Americans actual food.

The only thing worse than that is allowing American workers to keep more of the money they’ve earned… (the horrors!)

Antarctica’s Bizarre Brilliance Proves an Unforgettable Journey

We are seeing a lot of traffic about Antarctica today and it could well be important.  Except we do not know why and everything is speculation.  The place is so big, you could lose a thousand secret cities there and no one would know a thing.

That bases exist and that the presence is larger than admitted is at least known

At the same time i have dismissed a number of persistent  alien story lines that are necessary to allow story lines to even exist.   Yet i remain conscious that an underground habitat resolves climatic problems.  We do have hints that this exists..
Antarctica’s Bizarre Brilliance Proves an Unforgettable Journey

February 2, 2018, by Cormac Chester, Opinion Editor

Cormac Chester, Opinion Editor

As a photographer, expeditionist, and historian, my father has been to Antarctica over forty times. My house is an Antarctic base, however distant it is from the actual continent (8,494 miles, to be exact), and contains all sorts of penguin paraphernalia (like candlestick holders), photography (usually of vaulting penguins), and a general ambiance of the harsh beauty that defines the continent.

Flying to Buenos Aires, and then to Ushuaia, which lies on Tierra del Fuego and is generally recognized as the southernmost city in the world, is strenuous, if you’ve ever been on a plane, but relentlessly within the bounds of normality. Yet the last steps off the Aerolínas Argentinas flight upon landing in Ushuaia mark the boundary where normalcy begins its hibernation.

Near the bottom of the Earth, distinctly sharp mountains overlook the taxi ride from the airport to the hotel, where we stay for a night before climbing onto the ship. Ushuaia is deeply isolated, dependent primarily on Antarctic tourism, but the anticipation and expectation of whatever mysteries Antarctica has to reveal conceals any feelings of doubt or hesitancy.

To actually sail down and around the Antarctic Peninsula, which tails off of West Antarctica, we voyaged in what was formerly a Soviet research vessel, now converted into an Antarctica tourist paradise, fully set with a bar, three meals a day dining, and a friendly crew, most of whom are Russian or from the Commonwealth.

We sail across the Drake Passage, known for its savage seas that have sunk many enterprising boats, but luckily the waters are relatively tranquil. Nonetheless, the accompanied nausea and warped vision from the pitch and roll of the ship feel vaguely like a psychedelic trip.

Walking out on the deck in the midst of the open sea feels immensely isolating. There is nothing around except vague crests on waves, and a distant dense fog prevents any proper gazing, but the isolation is comforting and rarely terrifying. The inability to connect to anything except the water directly surrounding us allows for moments of serene, casual beauty.

Interrupting these fleeting feelings are the first few icebergs, reflective whites and brilliant blues, the entry into Antarctica proper, that sail by our Peninsula-bound vessel. And occasionally, over the intercom, the Tannoy, we hear whale sightings at three o’clock and nine o’clock, but never six o’clock, because facing backward on the bridge, where the marine spectators are positioned, is strictly forbidden.

Cormac Chester, Opinion Editor

Finally, we are off the boat and immediately onto another, a rubber-rimmed zodiac that will take us from shore to sea to shore. But our first zodiac experience is a cruise around Fournier Bay, watching whales porpoise and dive, looking for krill, or giving their calves a lesson. Gazing at these pinnipeds, I am in foundational, basic disbelief. From the perspective of an astronaut, my position on the globe is patently absurd, preposterous to its very core. But another whale rises out of the water, and having borrowed a large camera lens from my father, I snap another shot, hoping vainly that the photo is in focus.

Back on the boat, back to bed, back to sailing, and back on the zodiac, we sail to penguin colonies, disembarking to see if all of my father’s penguin photography stands the test of reality.

Hopping, landing, falling, waddling, swimming, the Gentoo penguins call out for their mates and chicks, a uniform cacophony that is the final proof of our Antarctica bearings. Yet we cannot walk too close to the nesting penguins, who would abandon their nests and their young chicks if frightened by an insensitive tourist.

Our expedition leader refers to these Gentoos as Homer Simpson penguins—standing in the middle of one of the ‘highways’ they tread into the snow results immense confusion for the birds, who will remain in stasis until a clear path is restored. And penguins are selfish and cunning, stealing pebbles from surrounding nests to construct their own. Yet they never get embarrassed when they trip, and never give up when they fail. Having been raised in the Church of Pygoscelis, watching penguins is a spiritual experience, an actualization of everything I had been told. But it is mostly bizarre. My indoctrination presented me with certain expectations, and I’m not sure whether they are being met.

It doesn’t matter. I can’t keep my eyes off them.

At Baily Head, located near an active volcano, we enter a colony of 100,000 chinstraps, whose black backs match perfectly with the black pebbly beach. It’s an unbelievable number of penguins, but a guide tells me that 20 years ago, the colony was more than double the size it is today. All of a sudden, the chinstraps scattered across the hillside appear like distinct, disparate splotches. I feel like I’ve never seen a smaller colony.

Our second zodiac cruise comes at Wilhelmina Bay. Although we don’t see any whales, spectacular glaciers, making their slow march into the sea, surround our journey among the azure-tinted icebergs. Again, I feel an immense sense of isolation, but it’s difficult to classify. I think the ice floes and gradually flowing glaciers distract me. I don’t feel cold or warm, happy or sad. I don’t feel anything. I am just in Antarctica, and there’s no other way to experience it.

We next sailed to Elephant Island, an almost mythical section of land, where the men of Sir Earnest Shackleton’s Endurance expedition stayed for five months in an upturned lifeboat while awaiting rescue. My father is a Shackleton enthusiast, so it’s only right that, on his first trip with his entire family, he successfully lands at Point Wild, the exact location where the men stayed. I land there too, but it doesn’t have quite the same meaning to me.

Our next destination is South Georgia, an island filled to the brim with wildlife and where Shackleton found his rescue. Landing on the beach is a difficult operation, not just because of the aggressive waves walloping the back of the zodiac, but also because of the hostile fur seals on the beach, looking to injure at any opportunity. They bark, but with trekking poles, we scare them back, brushing their whiskers with our pole-tips if they get too cuddly. But the moat of seals reveals an inner paradise of king penguins, who don’t nest. I sit down on a grassy mound and several walk up, one eventually pecks at my gumboot, and I get a quick photo. In the back of my mind, I worry that I’m not appreciating my environment enough, that I’m sacrificing an ephemeral experience for diminished but longer-term appreciation. But it’s too late: the penguin has walked on.

And so has our date with Antarctica. Although we departed from Ushuaia, our destination is now Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands. We land in Port Stanley and have a two-hour shopping excursion, visiting the store where my father had acquired so many penguin appurtenances, before staying one final night on the ship. At the captain’s dinner, the Russian captain gives a brief speech of congratulations and gratitude, a word-for-word copy of his speech on all previous trips, according to my father.

The next day, we are bussed to a military airport, where we hop on a LATAM Airlines flight to Punta Arenas, the Ushuaia of Chile, before hopping on another flight to Santiago, before flying back to America.

Reflecting on Antarctica’s absurd, bizarre brilliance makes me want to return. Each individual excursion is fascinating and exciting, but as a whole, the experience becomes a potent substance, an addiction that wracks the mind every day begging for another hit. I really miss it. Especially the penguins.

Cormac Chester can be reached at

World’s largest gold project just got even bigger

Most of my readers are hardly aware that i spend my earning years actively involved in the promotion of mining ventures and literally have decades of experience and knowledge as a result.

So in fairness, most projects stop looking for new resources after they round up about 15,000,000 ounces.  It literally becomes pointless.  In this case an extensive drill program massively surprised them by tripling apparent reserves to 20,000,000 ounces and far more important it increased the grade as well.  The copper profile is improved as well.

We certainly have a global scaled copper and gold camp here that will last at least a Century.   The map i am showing you is of the so called golden triangle.  However i want to share with you that early reconnaissance identified perhaps two dozen serious copper prospects back in the sixties here.  Infrastructure is now catching up and this will become a copper supplier equivalent to Chile as well as an increasingly important gold source...

World’s largest gold project just got even bigger

Seabridge Gold has bulked up again its already massive KSM gold-copper-silver project in British Columbia in both size and grade.

Cecilia Jamasmie

Drill site at the KSM gold-copper project British Columbia. It's the world's largest undeveloped gold project based on mineral reserves. (Image courtesy of Seabridge Gold.)

Shares in Seabridge Gold (TSX:SEA) (NYSE:SA) were soaring in pre-market trade in New York after the Canadian company bulked up again its already massive KSM gold-copper-silver project in northern British Columbia in both size and grade.

Before the opening, Seabridge stock was already exchanging hands at $10.40, up 4.8% on the New York Stock Exchange, after hiking its estimated inferred gold and copper resources at the Iron Cap deposit — one of four that make up the company's KSM project — by more than 300% each.

Investors curbed their initial enthusiasm once markets opened, with the miner’s shares trading only slightly up in New York (+0.48% to $10.45) and Toronto (+0.38% to Cdn$13.19 ) at 9:45AM ET.

The updated resource assessment shows estimated inferred gold resources have increased 302% to 20 million ounces. Estimated inferred copper resources, in turn, have grown 379% to 8.6 billion pounds.
The independent mineral resource estimate for the Iron Cap deposit incorporates all previous drilling plus 10,383 meters of diamond core drilling completed in 11 holes drilled in 2017, the Toronto-based miner said.

Rethinking KSM

The success of the 2017 drill program at Iron Cap, coupled with the deposit's proximity to proposed mine infrastructure, has Seabridge considering the potential of mining it sooner than anticipated, the company revealed

“All our objectives at Iron Cap were more than accomplished last year. A larger, richer Iron Cap deposit is expected to take a more prominent place in our mine planning, “ the company’s chairman and chief executive said in the statement.

“We believe Iron Cap has the potential to make a strong contribution to improving project economics thanks to its higher grade and its favourable capital and operating costs," Fronk noted.

Currently, KSM mine plan proposes developing Iron Cap after the Mitchell, Kerr and Sulphurets deposits.

Seabridge Gold holds a 100% interest in several North American gold resource projects. But the miner’s key assets are KSM property located near Stewart, B.C, as well as the Courageous Lake gold project — in Canada’s Northwest Territories. The company also owns Iskut, in B.C., which it obtained with the closing of the SnipGold Corp. acquisition, in June, 2016.

Scientists Discover Hundreds of 2D Materials That Could Be The Next Graphene


Graphene was the low hanging fruit whose potential as such is powerfully obvious.  It is very much in the midst of taking over the electronics industry at least and many other apps loom as well.   We are now a full decade in and the big apps have not been thought of yet.

Other compounds provide the potential of unusual special apps to add to this mountain of discovery.

Anyway we have started by identifying prospects..

Scientists Discover Hundreds of 2D Materials That Could Be The Next Graphene

This is so amazing!


13 FEB 2018

Part of what makes graphene so fantastically useful is its amazing thinness – it's just one atom thick.

Scientists have now found hundreds of other materials that are equally thin, providing a wide selection of new materials with perhaps as much potential as graphene.

The team analysed data in open resources including the Crystallography Open Database, looking for materials with structural similarities to graphene with the help of a custom computer program.

They were looking for materials with strong chemical bonds along one plane – the 2D atom layer – and relatively weak non-chemical action along the perpendicular plane. It's this combination that lets us peel sheets of graphene from graphite.

Starting off with a pool of over 100,000 crystal structures, the team from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland was able to narrow down the selection to 1,825 compounds with the potential to form sheets just a single atom thick.

"Two-dimensional materials provide opportunities to venture into largely unexplored regions of the materials space," the researchers explain in their study.

"On the one hand, their ultimate thinness makes them extremely promising for applications in electronics. On the other, the physical properties of monolayers often change dramatically from those of their parent 3D materials, providing a new degree of freedom for applications while also unveiling novel physics."

In the case of graphene and graphite, graphite is held together by a relatively weak electrostatic interaction known as a van der Waals force. Usually this is strong enough to keep the material together, but it does allow graphene to be extracted.

Whether or not that will also be true for the 1,825 materials identified here remains to be seen, but they have been shown to be structurally similar in terms of atom locations and their chemical bonds. A few of the structures have never been seen before.

Based on calculations run on 258 of the less complex chemicals in the final list, the researchers found that 166 turned out to be semiconductors with a variety of voltages. Meanwhile, 92 materials were identified as metallic, with another 56 likely to have unusual magnetic properties.

Even if just a small subsection of these new materials end up functioning like graphene does, that gives us a lot more options for creating materials for specific purposes in electronics and other areas. The next step is to test how these compounds work in both sheet form and in tightly packed layers.

What we do know thanks to this advanced database search is that these materials might just be exfoliable – able to be peeled into super-thin layers just like graphene. It's going to be exciting to see what happens next with the materials on this list.

"The materials identified are classified into groups of easily or potentially exfoliable compounds, showing that only a very small fraction of possible 2D materials has been considered up to now," conclude the researchers.

The research has been published in Nature Nanotechnology.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Shifting Political Winds

So much remains hidden and the MSM narrative remains gravely contrived.  This makes it hard to establish what is actually happening.  Yet the Florida shooting narrative, whatever its genesis has now been firmly turned back as a major fail for the gun control promote.  That is new.

Also new is that the other media is starting to laugh at the MSM.  This must turn into a major attitude shift.  Two years of MSM bunkum and the degenerating Mueller probe has inured all viewers to the fake news phenom.  In fact, i continue to strongly suspect that the output from Mueller was meant to exonerate Trump from day one.  After all the only plausible reason for this last entry of thirteen Russians was to provide cover for Trump's exoneration by Rosenstein and to set the stage for a major investigation of voting irregularities by the Democrats.  The MSM bought it hook line and anchor.

As i have posted, watch the hands.  We now hear the drum of boots on the march all covered by a smoke and mirrors show.  In fact, Trump now is feeding them the smoke and sooner or later, even the MSM must come to their senses.

We can not proclaim victory until the public actually sees it and even then we may need scalps.  What is apparent is that the voices who were part of it all are now going quite silent.  As posted before listen to the silence.   Perpetrators interviewed by the authorities all turn into clams.  Yet we are also on a planned schedule and though concerns exist, it appears to be easily running ahead of schedule.  

At this point Trump has turned the corner on the MSM propaganda program and the Deep State must be seriously diminished as well.  Taking out leadership nodes naturally collapses ninety percent of such influence.  Our frustration has been the need for secrecy, but with so much to do, it is better this way.  In the end, it is not too hard to determine aspects of what is happening based on available choices to the NWO threat easily identified.  That this is job for Mil Intel and the Marines becomes obvious.  Confirming that they are engaged is way more difficult and would not have been even possible except for their need to tee up local patriots as well to stand by to share knowledge.

As said, there is a real conflict underway and has so far been somewhat bloodless.  As reassurance, we appear to be winning and the opponent must be decapitated.  The last phase of the operation has been entered as well and general disclosure must become possible.  I would hate to see, for secrecy's sake, a large number of accidents however deserved..


population buffalo

In fairness, plenty of buildings were also abandoned as well.  All this happened because the affluent left those cities to live in adjacent suburbs because of the car and proper road systems supporting those suburbs.

I am now seeing a reversal of this trend in Vancouver in particular.    There the building of a train subway system has allowed the city to densify around the Stations.  Now at least ten thousand suites are made available at these locations.  All this increased the population in the downtown core while eliminating infrastructure ready to be abandoned.  

This pattern is now been adopted by many other cities as it increases the tax base and supports local businesses and common facilities.
Mitchell Langbert
This is a picture of the population of Buffalo, New York from 1830 to 2017. In 1949, Congress passed the American Housing Act. According to Wikipedia, "It was a landmark, sweeping expansion of the federal role in mortgage insurance and issuance and the construction of public housing." The Housing Act was supposed to be a support to cities. It was the chief "urban renewal" law. (…/unit…/us-history/urban-renewal ) adds:
Sites were acquired through eminent domain, the right of the government to take over privately owned real estate for public purposes, in exchange for "just compensation." After the land was cleared, local governments sold it to private real estate developers at below-market prices. Developers, however, had no incentives to supply housing for the poor. In return for the subsidy and certain tax abatements, they built commercial projects and housing for the upper-middle class.
Robert Moses was a leader in eminent domain actions going back to the 1930s. The sponsor of the law was Moses's friend and fellow Yale graduate, Senator Robert Taft. Taft had alerted Moses as to the passage of the law, and Moses saw a state law passed that increased his own power to oversee the urban renewal programs in New York.
The year before urban renewal went into law, signaling increased federal government involvement in the economy, Buffalo's population peaked. Its population, along with most other upstate New York cities, has declined ever since the law went into effect.

Trump administration wants to transform welfare and food program

The low hanging fruit in terms of government spending happens to be in its administration of all redistribution programs which on their own also provide an important economic input.
Right now government has opted to merely transfer money and that is administered by the retail market which is obviously the most expensive possible way to do it.   Just as obviously there is no need whatsoever to do it this way.

To start with there is a huge pool of four hour shift work available for the task of packing and delivering weekly food boxes directly to clients.  In fact computerization allows us to even custom pack.  You are not stocking to support random access buying at all but stocking a short list of supplies and delivering them.  Amazon can figure this out and so can anyone else.
In fact contract Amazon to deliver the infrastructure in the first place.
My point is that we swap out all retail markups at the least and allow clients to optimize the food mix for their specific needs..  Throw in ample nutritional advice and support and we will have something that we can be proud of.

In fact this is a viable business plan and worth a huge IPO.  At the very least it can be used immediately to draw down the huge surplus of cheese and butter and dairy.

Trump administration wants to transform welfare and food program


The Trump administration is seeking to transform the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, which has long been considered one of the essentials of the so-called safety net for impoverished citizens. Under the budget proposal, eligible low-income persons who receive at least $90 a month — or about 80 percent of all SNAP recipients — would receive approximately half of their benefits in the form of a "USDA Foods package." The so-called Harvest package would include "shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruit and vegetables." The boxes from the USDA would not include fresh fruit and vegetables, soap, or soft drinks.

Some states began phasing out actual food stamps in the 1990s, replacing them with electronic benefit transfer cards (EBT). In 2008, federal legislation that enacted SNAP eliminated food stamps and replaced them across the government with EBTs. Since then, SNAP beneficiaries receive benefits directly to an EBT card to purchase food and allowed goods. In the past, advocates had decried the use of visible food stamps because of the supposed embarassment on the part of the users.

According to the Trump administration, the move is a "cost-effective approach" with "no loss in food benefits to participants." The federal government asserts that state authorities can deliver food to beneficiaries at a lower cost than what SNAP recipients currently pay for food at retail stores, and reduce the cost to taxpayers. The administration believes that by cutting SNAP by almost 30 percent, the SNAP budget would be reduced by $213 billion over the next ten years.

While the method of delivering the USDA food packages was not clarified in the administration’s budget proposal, the budget said that the 50 states will have "substantial flexibility in designing the food box delivery system through existing infrastructure, partnerships or commercial/retail delivery services."

In December, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that he wants the states to have more flexibility in the SNAP program, adding that he wants to see fraud and waste addressed. Perdue said the federal budget has "common-sense reforms that call for greater consistency across nutritional programs." SNAP and other food programs constitute approximately 80 percent of the USDA's budget in the farm bill. In 2016, approximately 44 million people were getting SNAP benefits every month, at an annual cost of $70.9 billion. Nearly two-thirds of them were under the age of 18, over 60, or disabled, according to the USDA.

In an article at the liberal Brookings Institution, writer Lauren Bauer declared:

“SNAP relies on the private sector to provide access to food and beneficiaries to shop according to their needs and preferences. There is little administrative glut; more than 93 percent of SNAP is spent on food benefits. The President’s Budget Request would change the fundamental structure of the program, add costly administrative burden, and restrict the choices of beneficiaries.

“Rather than cutting SNAP benefits or policing the food choices of recipients, it is worth asking: what type of policy reforms to SNAP would in fact reduce food insecurity and increase the likelihood that beneficiaries purchase healthy foods?”

However, some critics of SNAP fear that there is considerable fraud and abuse associated with the program. For example, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced in January that his office was able to see $215,249.46 in restitution paid back in South Carolina from food stamp fraud cases in 2017. Statewide, 60 persons were prosecuted in South Carolina with $209,132.67 in restitution ordered to the Department of Social Services. Since the beginning of the SNAP program in January 2015, according to the release, over $820,000 in restitution was order in South Carolina.

In July 2017, a federal district court sentenced Lakhbir "Lucky" Chahal to federal prison and Tony "Paco" Price to probation for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Authorities claim that Chahal used food stamp benefits to purchase stock for his stores, Liquor Plus Mini Mart and Paradise House of Liquor. Prosecutors alleged that customers were paid 50 cents on the dollar for their SNAP benefits in exchange for cash and ineligible items such as alcohol and tobacco. According to court records, the total amount of restitution in Chahal's case was almost $1.3 million.

Under SNAP, beneficiaries are allowed to buy unprepared food, such as milk and meat, bread, beans and rice. Items such as soft drinks, soap, toilet paper, and feminine hygiene products are not allowed. In 2016, Rep. Mary Bentley (R) introduced legislation in the Arkansas state legislature to address obesity in the state by banning the purchase of snack foods with EBT cards.

Evidence of fraud and abuse can be found. For example, Spero News found an ad on Craigslist for Atlanta, Georgia, that said, “Hi, I'm looking for someone in the area to get some stamps from. I'm looking for three hundred. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have some.” a telephone number was provided.

Alt-Right or jihad?

We easily forget the resilience of the human spirit.  Blow a few folks up and we all adjust to the idea of an acceptable risk and responders get more aggressive because it will now be accepted.  The real problem is that this is a slow evolution rather than a full on onslaught with overwhelming numbers.

Centuries ago the same process eliminated all political support for Muslims living in Europe and they were summarily removed.  This time we need to demand that Muslims actually read the Koran and identify those aspects objected to by the teachings of Christ.  This will actually force conversion to Christianity or any other alternative.

The problem is the continuing failure of the natuiral community which needs to be revitalized in order to end poverty.  Doing this in concert with the rule of twelve will resolve these nihilist drives in our societies.

Alt-Right or jihad? 

Unleashed by globalisation’s dark side and the collapse of communities, radical Islam and the alt-Right share a common cause

Scott Atran

is the director of research in anthropology at the CNRS, École Normale Supérieure, and a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford. He is co-founder of Artis Research, and the author of Talking to the Enemy (2010) and In Gods We Trust (2002).

The last of the shell-shocked were being evacuated as I headed from home toward Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s famed tourist-filled walkway in August 2017. Another disgruntled ‘soldier of ISIS’ had just ploughed his van into the crowd there, killing 14 and wounding more than 100 people from nearly three dozen nations. I had just dropped off my wife’s niece to meet friends by the Plaça Catalunya, near where the rampage began. It was déjà vu and dread again, evoking the Paris massacre at the Bataclan theatre and the café La Belle Équipe in 2015, next door to where my daughter lived. At a seafront promenade south of the city, a car of five knife-wielding ISIS kamikazes mowed down a woman before police killed them all. One teenage attacker had posted on the web two years before that on his ‘first day as King of the World’ he would ‘kill infidels and leave only Muslims [who] followed religion’.

As I approached the police security line in Barcelona, someone thought they heard a noise, a rumour of another attack; someone else saw a sudden movement by a darker-skinned man, an unanticipated fall by an onlooker – or perhaps nothing at all. People surged, screamed, cried, and then it all stopped as suddenly as it had started. The strategy in hitting any of the unlimited soft targets in our societies is to undermine people’s faith that government can provide security, while increasing suspicion and hatred against those who are different so they will see that trying to live in peace only brings pain.

The next day, along the wide shopping boulevard that ends in the Plaça Catalunya, there was a minute of silence, then tears and applause. For a few hours, Spain’s people had come together to show, as the Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy bellowed, ‘our values and way of life will triumph’, but without a hint of how – just as the British prime minister Theresa May had proclaimed ‘our values will prevail’ last March when yet another petty criminal, ‘born again’ into the salvational grace of radical Islam, killed and wounded pedestrians after driving across Westminster Bridge.

Over the course of these events, pundits and politicians repeated platitudes, then tore into one another for not having a clue about how to stop what everyone knew was coming next. One of the problems may be looking at radical Islam instead of larger, more global forces worldwide. These attacks are unleashed from the dark side of globalisation, where desire for liberal democracy is lost.

The week before the Barcelona attack, the terrorist in Charlottesville, Virginia, was a white supremacist who maimed and killed people nearly at random with his vehicle in a fashion painfully familiar to the ISIS-inspired killings in London, Nice, Berlin and Stockholm. It was an act recently repeated in Manhattan by a man pledged to ISIS, who killed eight pedestrians and wounded 12 with a rental truck. An acquaintance and activist from the attacker’s immigrant community described him in The New York Times as someone initially unremarkable who had developed ‘monsters inside’. So, too, according to the Charlottesville attacker’s former history teacher: ‘This was something that was growing in him … He had this fascination with Nazism [and] white supremacist views.’

Whether alt-Right or radical Islam, the values of liberal and open democracy increasingly appear to be losing ground around the world to those of narrow, xenophobic ethno-nationalisms and radical ideologies. Our research team at Artis International and the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict at Oxford University has found that these forces are clobbering free societies today much like fascists and communists did back in the 1920s and ’30s. In Hungary, we find that youth strongly support the government’s call for restoring ‘national cohesion’, lost with the fall of Miklós Horthy’s fascist and pro-Nazi regime; the call to root out ‘cosmopolitan’ and ‘globalist’ values is strong. In Iraq, we find that nearly all of the young people we have interviewed who are coming out from under Islamic State rule in Mosul initially welcomed it for stability and security amid the chaos following the US invasion – until they were alienated by the ever-increasing brutality.

According to the World Values Survey, the majority of Europeans do not believe that living in a democratic country is ‘absolutely important’ for them. This includes most young Germans under age 30, and especially their elders in former communist East Germany who, in September, voted into Parliament the Right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany. Last April, Marine Le Pen’s hard-Right National Front and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s hard-Left Unbowed France together captured nearly half of the French vote of people age 18-34 in first-round national elections. And in the US, political scientists Roberto Foa and Yascha Mounk find that nearly half of American citizens lack faith in democracy; more than one-third of young high-income earners actually favour army rule, presumably to halt rising social unrest linked to income inequality, job insecurity, and persistent failures in racial integration and cultural assimilation in an age of identity politics.

The new world disorder puts us all at risk in this global age, where non-state forces volcanically erupt through the nation-state system, spreading noxious, violent memes

In our own research in France and Spain, we find little willingness to make costly sacrifice for democracy, especially compared to the willingness to fight and die for jihad in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Our wide-ranging interviews and psychological experiments have uncovered not a ‘clash of civilisations’, as Poland’s interior minister declared in reaction to events in Barcelona, but civilisation’s unraveling, as young people unmoored from traditions flail about in search of a social identity that gives personal significance and glory. Individuals radicalise to find firm identity in a flattened world. In this new reality, vertical lines of communication between generations are replaced by horizontal peer-to-peer attachments that can span the globe, albeit in vanishingly narrow channels of ideas and information. Our research has shown that, despite its vitriol against ‘globalists’, today’s alt-Right movement involves the same narrow-minded global weave of tweets, blogs and chatrooms linking physical groups across the world as the jihadi movement.

The new world disorder puts us all at greater risk in this global age, where non-state forces volcanically erupt through the nation-state system, spreading noxious, violent memes. The Western creations of the nation-state and the relatively open markets that today dominate the global political and economic order (and to which non-Western powers like China and Russia also subscribe) have largely supplanted age-old forms of governance, social formations and economic activity that involved whole communities of people that once intimately knew one another. Instead, rising populations and urbanisation, extensive and rapid communications and transportation, and science and technology have transformed people in the farthest reaches of the planet into competitive players seeking progress and personal fulfilment through material accumulation and its symbols. But market-driven competition often comes at steep personal and social cost. When communities lack enough time to adapt to all the innovation and change, its members may fall short of their aspirations; anxiety and alienation bubble up, and violence can erupt along prevailing political and religious fault lines.

It was religious philosopher Søren Kierkegaard who first discussed ‘the dizziness of freedom’ and the social disruption that it creates. Seizing on the idea in Escape from Freedom (1941), humanist philosopher Erich Fromm argued that too much freedom caused many to seek elimination of uncertainty in authoritarian systems. This has combined with what social psychologist Arie Kruglanski calls ‘the search for significance’, propelling both violent jihadists and militant supporters of populist ethno-nationalist movements worldwide. In the wake of these forces, we see what psychologist Michele Gelfand describes as a ‘tightening’ of political cultures, featuring intolerance of behaviours that differ from the norm. Thus, in our recent fieldwork with youth emerging from under ISIS rule in Mosul, we find that although ISIS may have lost its state, the Caliphate, it hasn’t necessarily lost allegiance among the people to its core values of strict religious rule and rejection of democracy. As one young man put it: ‘Sharia is God telling you what to do … Democracy is humans causing wars and distrust. To be free to do whatever you want leads to many problems and divisions and corruption in society.’

World history from the 19th century onwards illustrates the impact of globalising trends. After the massive bloodletting of the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars from 1789 to 1815, governing elites tried to find consensus on how Europe, and the expanding colonial world it dominated, would be run. For a hundred years, from the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, this informal international collaboration basically maintained the integrity of existing empires and nation-states. The order endured despite popular uprisings like the French Revolution of 1830 and the continent-wide 1848 Revolution, both erupting over lack of rights and social protection for peasants and workers in industrialising societies. And it held fast in the face of conflicts like the Crimean War (1853-1856), a Russian quest to extend its reach. Britain, especially, repeatedly intervened to maintain Europe’s balance of power at home and abroad. But the gap separating elite values and popular needs – along with the willingness of one, then the other, of Europe’s powers to break the consensus – ultimately unwound the world order.

By the end of the 19th century, this order had attained heightened levels of globalisation, liberating human beings from near-exclusive reliance on wind, water and muscle power. Advancements in transportation included worldwide construction of roads and railroads, steam ships across the waterways, and later automobiles. Communication technology included the telegraph, and later telephone, film and radio. Scientific prowess multiplied, and capital flowed. People moved freely around the world; Russia and Turkey alone required passports.

But just as today, the rapid, radical changes produced counter-cultural pressures, with social revolutionaries and anarchists propelling a wave of transnational terror that began shortly before the assassination of Russia’s Tsar Alexander II in 1881. This terrorist wave extended through to the assassinations of the prime ministers of France in 1894 and Spain in 1897; the empress of Austria in 1898 and the king of Italy in 1900; and finally, the killing of United States president William McKinley in 1901. It involved bombings of ‘bourgeois’ civilians in cafes and theatres across Europe and North America before abating with the onset of the First World War.

‘When compared with the suppression of anarchy, every other question sinks into insignificance’

The ineffective response of those in power, likewise, resembled what we see today. Affected states initially lashed out in stunned bafflement, often missing their illusive targets but hitting upon those unrelated to terrorist acts. This included, for example, violent repression of the trade union and labour movements that arose in late 19th-century Europe and the US. Nations reacted by adding or reinforcing state security organisations: Russia’s Okhrana, created in 1881, was a precursor of the NKVD and KGB; Britain founded New Scotland Yard in 1890; France’s Direction Centrale de Renseignements Généraux came in 1907, followed by the US Bureau of Investigation in 1908, a precursor of the FBI.

In his first Annual Message to Congress (3 December 1901) after McKinley’s death, US president Theodore Roosevelt declared that: ‘When compared with the suppression of anarchy, every other question sinks into insignificance.’ He offered a corollary to the Monroe Doctrine: anarchy’s ‘general loosening of the ties of civilised society, may in America as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by some civilised nation, and may lead the United States, however reluctantly … to the exercise of an international police power.’ The war against anarchy and terror even helped to justify the brutal repression of a native insurgency against the US ‘civilising mission’ and rule in Muslim areas of the Philippines.

Ultimately, the anarchist’s diffuse movement lost steam, but globalism and the reactions to it propelled other forces to the fore. In the Soviet Union, peasants and workers embraced communism and acceded to the suppression of all dissent that came with Stalinism. The Nazis preached the revival of the nation and a race war against the forces of cosmopolitanism and cultural diversity, and tens of millions of people in Germany’s advanced industrial society grovelled at Hitler’s feet.

And in the US, from the late 19th century on, we saw the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan had three iterations in the US, starting with its founding in 1866 by Southern whites to fight reconstruction, including policies to give African-Americans equal rights. It was temporarily crushed, but rose again in 1915 in the wake of burgeoning immigration to stand against not just black Americans, but also Roman Catholics, Jews, and foreigners of any ilk. By the 1920s, at its height, the KKK’s membership of some four million came from all layers of majority-culture in the US heartland. By 1927, members of the KKK had found fellow travellers – those embracing Charles Lindbergh and his America First Committee, with its fascist and anti-Semitic rhetoric endorsing an isolationist US that would not oppose Hitler or the Nazis in the lead up to the Second World War.

Today, the parallels between the alt-Right and radical jihadism are clear, illustrated by the late William Luther Pierce III. I met the tall, soft-spoken physicist in 1980, when I sought to learn how he had hosted the French Holocaust-denier Robert Faurisson. By then one of the most persuasive voices of the white-supremacist movement, he told me that ‘evil is the failure to recognise the necessity of race war’ and indeed, he had strategised mass revolt and white nationalist revolution through his group, the National Alliance.

These were the ideas that inspired Timothy McVeigh, who was executed for bombing a federal office building in Oklahoma City in April 1995, killing 168 and injuring over 600. The dream of a race war also inspired Dylann Roof to murder nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston in June 2015. With his act, he believed, the war would come a few years hence, and he’d be revered. These kinds of acts aim to incite retaliatory measures of repression and violence against whites, including a tightening of gun laws, much as ISIS aims to accomplish repression of Muslims through acts of terror in the West.

White-supremacist and jihadi groups parallel one another not only in strategy and tactics, but also in messaging. Klansman and Aryan Nations member Louis Beam published his 1983 manifesto, ‘Leaderless Resistance’, in The Seditionist in 1992 , as a social resistance strategy for white nationalists. Like the jihadi movement, it rejects commanding anti-government acts from the leaders of a top-down hierarchy in favour of letting independent groups and individuals act on their own. And it rejects direct messaging in favour of inferred messaging – all to prevent authorities from decapitating the movement or assigning legal responsibility for cause and effect.

Whether jihadist or alt-Right, these leaders are often educated and well-off

When Mustafa Setmariam (aka Abu Musab al-Suri) published al-Qaeda’s strategy for jihad as ‘The Call for Global Islamic Resistance’ in 2004, one could just as well have been reading an exegesis on The Seditionist and Louis Beam. Like Beam, Setmariam adopted the theme of leaderless resistance: ‘[S]pontaneous operations performed by individuals and cells here and there over the whole world, without connection between them, have put local and international intelligence apparatuses in a state of confusion.’

There are leaders, of course – founders of groups, or those who analyse conditions and formulate plans. Whether jihadist or alt-Right, these figures are often educated and well-off. Osama bin Laden was famously a multimillionaire who studied economics and civil engineering. His successor as head of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is a surgeon from a distinguished and prosperous family of doctors and scholars. ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi received a PhD from the University of Baghdad. Charles Lindbergh was not just an aviator but the son of a lawyer and a US Congressman. William Pierce was a physicist descended from Southern aristocracy. Richard Spencer, the president of the alt-Right’s pre-eminent think tank, the National Policy Institute, is the son of an ophthalmologist and an heir to a cotton-field fortune, who received his MA in humanities from the University of Chicago. Across the wide swath of revolutionary and insurgent groups, founders are usually members of the middle or upper class, who then reach out to the more marginalised, less educated and poorer masses to increase potency.

Leaders may be high-born, but whether jihadist or alt-Right, mass recruitment is not primarily top-down but peer-to-peer. The Soufan Group, which provides strategic security intelligence services to governments and multinational organisations, explains that individuals are ‘motivated to travel to Iraq and Syria by friends, family, or influential members of their communities’. Data assembled by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London indicates that approximately 75 per cent of those who join the Islamic State at home or abroad do so in pre-existing groups. According to West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, only one in five ISIS foreign fighters were recruited directly through social media, although social media greatly facilitates the jihadi movement’s global communication and integration.

But even more than today’s jihadists (where personal networks rooted in immigrant neighbourhoods and clustered in particular towns and foreign territories remain key to recruitment), the alt-Right grassroots movement has coalesced online, on the dark side of social media. Before the predominance of the internet there were fringe newsletters, radio programmes and rallies, like the attempted Nazi march in Skokie, Illinois in 1977 whose case went before the US Supreme Court, and the short-lived KKK demonstration in Warren, Ohio in 1998. But the rise of social media has allowed people who might want to be part of the white-supremacist movement to adhere without incurring the stigma previously associated with physically joining.

When membership in a community combines with a commitment to transcendent values, the willingness to make costly sacrifices will rise

As political scientist Richard Hasen describes it, social media lowers ‘the collective action problem’ of an individual going it alone because you can see that there are people out there like you to share risks. Neuropsychologist Molly Crockett notes that outrage-inducing messages appear to be more prevalent and potent online, with social media magnifying its triggers and reducing its personal costs.

Moreover, research by sociologist Mark Granovetter shows that once an expected threshold of there being people like you is appreciably surpassed, then the number and pace of people who join the fold can rapidly ratchet up. Thus, the Daily Stormer can boast in a recent online Sunday edition of being ‘the biggest pro-white publication in the history of the world. With 6 million monthly unique visitors, we trounced the circulation of the Third Reich’s most popular tabloid Der Sturmer, which had 250,000.’
From jihadis in Europe to white supremacists in the US, people most susceptible to joining radical groups are youth in their teens and 20s seeking community and purpose. The attraction of community is especially keen where there are sentiments of social exclusion or community collapse, whether or not accompanied by economic deprivation. It is a sense of purpose that most readily propels action and sacrifice, including a willingness to fight and die – especially when that purpose is perceived to be in defence of transcendent values dissociated from material costs or consequences.

In our studies across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, we find that when membership in a tight community combines with a commitment to transcendent values, the willingness to make costly sacrifices will rise. The idea is to encourage devoted action for the sake of absolute values that fuse community and purpose.

This applies to the alt-Right as well. Just look at Patrik Hermansson’s undercover investigation of the extreme Right for the anti-racist group Hope Not Hate. Like recruiters who seek to bring in people from the larger Muslim community through cultural mixers and gatherings and then nudge them towards jihadi values, the alt-Right aims ‘to bring the [white] mainstream towards us’, as far-Right Scottish YouTube vlogger Colin Robertson put it, by avoiding the stereotypical ‘race hate’ line, and by relentlessly focusing on what Aryan Nations portrays as ‘a spiritual-based, numinous way of living’.

A core value shared by alt-Right proponents and jihadists is hatred of Jews. Beam called for linking up the far-Right in the US with the ‘liberation movements’ of Libya, Syria, Iran and Palestine. In 2002, in a speech that he gave shortly before he died, William Pierce declared that ‘when Osama bin Laden attacked the United States on September 11 the year before, he did much more than send us a message that Muslims are not happy about what the Jews … are doing to the Palestinians … He forced the whole subject of US policy in the Middle East into the open: the subject of American interests versus Jewish interests, of Jewish media control and its influence on governmental policy. He broke the taboo. He exposed the treason. In the long run that may more than compensate for the 3,000 American lives that were lost.’

In 2007, Aryan Nations argued for an ‘Aryan Jihad’ to destroy the ‘Judaic-tyrannical’ system of ‘so-called Western democratic states’. Dylaan Roof also saw the link: when questioned by a court examiner, he said he was ‘like a Palestinian in an Israeli jail after killing nine people … the Palestinian would not be upset or have any regret.’

Of course, white supremacists and jihadis have different world views, even if the slippery Jew or rootless Zionist is a sacrificial scapegoat in both. Our team asked white supremacists and jihadis whether a child born to Jewish parents but adopted by them since birth would grow up to be like other Jews, or like their adoptive parents. White supremacists invariably say that a born Jew is always a Jew who must be eliminated. Jihadis mostly say that a person born to Jews (or any other group) can grow up to be a Muslim holy warrior, or mujahedin, if raised in the House of Islam.

White supremacists and jihadis have different world views, even if the slippery Jew or rootless Zionist is a sacrificial scapegoat in both

Different, but not different enough. That’s because the reaction to outside threat is a deep human tendency – when an in-group feels threatened by an out-group, violence and hatred are not the anomalies but the rule for nearly all cultures throughout human history.

In The Descent of Man, Charles Darwin cast this devotion to the group as moral and fit, required for better-endowed winning groups in history’s competition for survival and dominance. Across cultures, the strongest group identities are bounded by sacred values like unwillingness to sell out one’s religion or country for material tradeoffs. ‘Is this not because God and society are one and the same?’ French sociologist Émile Durkheim famously conjectured. Revolutionaries and insurgents willing to sacrifice for cause and group have long tended to prevail with considerably less firepower and manpower than the state armies and police forces they oppose.

Fearful of the chauvinism and xenophobia that fed two world wars, many Western leaders and press simply denounce national identity or cultural preference as ‘bigoted’ or ‘racist’, and show an ostrich-like blindness to pan-human preferences for one’s own. This leaves the field wide-open for the offensive of white-nationalist groups of the alt-Right, or the far-Right’s less overtly racist alt-Light defenders of ‘Western culture’ against the onslaught of Islam, globalism, migration, feminism and homosexuality.

So how might we intervene? At the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where I presented some of our research findings, I had the impression that most people in attendance thought that the recent surge of jihadism and xenophobic ethno-national populism were just atavistic blips in the ineluctable progress of globalisation that were destined to soon go away. That to me was the most worrisome feature of Davos, whose denizens basically run the world (or try to). Few there seemed willing to change their policies or behaviour. They seemed to view the left-behinds of the dark side of globalisation as simply losers that might be given a handout when artificial intelligence and robots deny them any chance for a decent living.

To end these worries, there was earnest talk among the spectacularly wealthy of a universal guaranteed income for the economically disadvantaged. Yet poor people rarely instigate violent overthrows of established order. Indeed, a guaranteed income for people without purpose or significance in life would more likely radicalise them than create quiet sheep. The doyens of Davos thereby could be subsidising their own extinction.

Providing jobs that deny people dignity or the dream of a worthy life would likely fare no better. Instead, the first part of a more considered solution lies in understanding how human these violent responses are. In our preferred world of liberal democracy and human rights, violence – especially extreme forms of mass bloodshed – are deemed pathological. But across most of human history and culture, violence against outsider groups has been considered an act of moral virtue; for without a claim to virtue it is difficult, if not inconceivable, to want to eliminate large numbers of people innocent of direct harm to others.

But what messages could compete? For some, reinforcing our own values of representative government, with equal opportunity and justice before the law and unfettered debate, may provide a way forward in life. Preserving what is left of the planet’s fauna and flora and avoiding environmental catastrophes may offer a new course for others. Others still might be inspired by anti-nuclear activities to fight what is probably humanity’s greatest threat.

News media can help. Rapid diffusion of fake news, conspiracy theories and other forms of propaganda are rife. With the decline of public-service national and local news to provide a consensus about reality, false information encourages people to form mistaken beliefs that are skewed to their prejudices. We need to revive local news as a public service for citizens, without imposing censorship, and convince national media and internet giants like Google and Facebook that the First Amendment right of individuals to information may not apply equally to any source without caveat, such as the Russian government seeking to sway US elections or hate groups hell-bent on ethnic cleansing.

But even if news coverage improves, no message will spread and endure in a social vacuum. Instead, to thwart the recruitment process we need intimate engagement with communities at risk. When I was conducting research in Jordan, an Imam who formerly recruited for ISIS told me that ‘the young who came to us were not to be lectured at like witless children. We have to provide a better message, but a positive one.’ He went on to say that the message needs to be in a cultural frame that inspires them ‘from within their hearts’.

Young people are viewed mostly as part of a ‘youth bulge’, a problem to be pummelled, rather than as a ‘youth boom’

The hurdle is high. The mixed neighbourhoods I’ve studied in Paris, Brussels and Ripoll, Spain (where the Barcelona killers plotted) contain parallel universes in which North-African immigrants and natives fail to greet or even look at one another, and where neighbours only know that the other is ‘an Arab’ or not. Yet without intimate engagement between the groups, violent passions will continue their viral spread through social networks in distressed places across the world.

Hands-on social engagement, on the other hand, has already helped turn youth away from local gangs. Criminologist David Kennedy has demonstrated significant homicide-reduction among gangs and drug crews through community work. Based on his observations that offenders within communities operate in groups, he spearheaded a program in cities across the US to bring youth into contact with respected community members, social services and law enforcement officials, avoiding arrests and preventing death.

One important strategy is learning from radical Islamist groups, ranging from the largely non-violent Muslim Brotherhood to al-Qaeda, whose outreach approach to social services and charity work (dawah) appears to offer greater success than calls to extremism. For example, in the al-Mahra governorate in Yemen, al-Qaeda is the dominant jihadi group. Middle East scholar Elisabeth Kendall found that 56 per cent of al-Qaeda tweets were directed toward community development projects, often focusing on youth (only 3 per cent concerned punishments). She sought to counteract al-Qaeda’s appeal with a parallel campaign run through a local non-profit organisation, Mahra Youth Unity Association, to enlist youth in community service and development work, initially relying mostly on print media and direct community engagement to promote school initiatives for peace-building, environmental cleanup and so on. These efforts generated wide involvement of local youth and leaders in vulnerable, hard-to-reach desert communities. Now, her intervention work increasingly also uses social media.

Community engagement can also help counteract the alt-Right’s appeal. In Germany, the Violence Prevention Network and Exit Germany have used outreach initiatives to turn around hundreds of far-Right supporters. These initiatives focus on intimate ‘counter-engagement’ involving quality time with youth to develop a sense of worth and purpose; they build social relationships within the community and avoid mass ‘counter-narrative’ messages, which have not worked. Exit Motala in Sweden, started by a school welfare worker and a local police officer to beat gangs at their own game of offering belonging, now also focus on young women susceptible to racist recruitment, providing a variety of social activities, ranging from theatre, sports, cooking and car repairs to outings at the Swedish Parliament and Jewish museum in Stockholm.

At the very least, we must embed ourselves within actual communities to understand which approach may work best. A necessary focus of this effort must be youth, who form the bulk of today’s extremist recruits and tomorrow’s most vulnerable populations. Volunteers for al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and many extreme nationalist groups are often youth in transitional stages in their lives – immigrants, students, people between jobs and before finding their mates. Having left their homes, they seek new families of friends and fellow travellers to find purpose and significance. The ability to understand the realities facing young people will determine whether the transnational scourge of violent extremism continues and surges or abates.

We need to alter the approach to youth. Right now, young people, especially young men (although increasingly young women), are viewed mostly as part of a ‘youth bulge’, a problem to be pummelled, rather than as a ‘youth boom’ – the world’s most creative force, holding the promise for a better future, without violence in the mix. Let us help these young people realise their hopes and dreams, help them take agency over their own lives. The best strategy could be showing them how they might successfully navigate their ideas in the labyrinths of power and prevailing institutions to change the world without violence. This is a goal of The United Network of Young Peacebuilders, which was instrumental in promoting UN Security Council Resolution 2250 that urges Member States to give youth a greater voice in decision-making to confront violent extremism. But for now, that goal is only a hope.

Few of us will ever be free from the anxiety of never-ending change and choice. Some may never escape the hopeless delusion that life must never shift, a sense that can only lead to dread of difference in others. But we still share common grounds of shared passions and ideas in a world where all but the too-far-gone can live with more than a minimum of liberty and happiness, if given half a chance. It is for this chance that some of our forebears fought a revolution, civil war and world wars.