Sanders, Trump and more. Fasten your seatbelt, America, this is gonna be one helluva ride

New Hampshire is over! After decades of hosting the first in the nation primary New Hampshire, rocked the political world and set in motion an election that is as unpredictable as any in modern times.

Tuesday night, the voters of New Hampshire kicked off what may be the longest and most uncertain election in my five decades of watching and participating in presidential politics.

There was no surprise at the top of the polls with the results, it was only the size of their landslide victories. The liberal winner Senator Bernie Sanders, the Socialist, running for the first time as a Democrat, won overwhelmingly and crushed the alleged inevitable nominee Mrs. Clinton by more than 20 points. Sanders cannot be dismissed and now is a real contender.

The size of Sanders’ victory will make establishment Democracts very nervous about Hillary’s  long term viability.

As expected, Donald Trump, former Democrat, one time independent, and now Republican, carried the GOP side by two to one and again has to be viewed as the frontrunner.

The amazing thing is that Trump has barely touched his wallet or run a real campaign yet he has managed to crush all comers.

He will certainly run a serious campaign now and the Republican presidential nomination is a real possibility.

As often happens in New Hampshire, many voters, 4 in 10, didn’t make up their minds until the last hours.

Late deciders often make the difference in an election and Tuesday night in New Hampshire after they heard and saw it all they did it again.

Granite State voters punished Marco Rubio for his weak debate performance on Saturday and they rewarded  John Kasich for his “one state all or nothing campaign” by voting him into second place.

The governor from the critical battleground state of Ohio, (Republicans can’t win without it) is now positioned to be the establishment candidate. His strength is that he probably knows more than anyone in the race about domestic budget policy and military affairs. His weakness is that he needs to really expand his fundraising capacities and political operation. He has nothing going on in South Carolina.

Kasich also will be the target of conservatives who see him as a “RINO” (Republican In Name Only) and simply too liberal.

The greatest danger for any candidate is when momentum catches up to a lack of organization. That’s when failure is a real possibility.

The governor could be a strong general election candidate but he has to first survive the Republican only primaries.

That’s a tough challenge.

Iowa winner Ted Cruz, while spending little money and being badly outspent by his opponents in New Hampshire, proved again that he is the true conservative and is a long term challenger especially as the race heads south.

Jeb Bush, with his 90-year-old mother in tow, spent a fortune in a state that has a long history with the Bush family but he still could do no better than fourth place. There’s not much of a future left for him.

Rubio is wounded and needs a major state win to get back in the game. Florida, where Trump is leading overwhelmingly, may turn out to be Rubio’s Waterloo. He must win his home state on March 15 – which is a winner take all contest, if he is to go on.

Christie won no delegates Tuesday night and ran seventh. He has no money and needs to throw in the towel and return home to a state that he has been out of for more than 400 days in the last two years.

The same is true for Carly Fiorina and Dr. Ben Carson, who has fallen from the top to the bottom of the pack in record time. It’s time to go home.

In the meantime, if I would have predicted a year ago that Sanders and Trump were going to be the winners of the New Hampshire primary, Fox News would have kicked me off the air and I would have been a laughingstock in the pundits club.

Of course I didn’t predict it because like all of you I had no idea. And as we move on, I have no idea who is going to win either party’s nomination or ultimately the presidency.

I am handicapped by fifty years of knowledge and experience, which is totally irrelevant in this election.

Also get ready for the outrageous promises you’re going to hear from both sides. They will challenge your wildest imagination.

Buckle up your seat belt because this is going to be one hell of a ride!

Edward J. Rollins is a Fox News contributor. He is a former assistant to President Reagan and he managed his reelection campaign. He is a senior presidential fellow at Hofstra University and a member of the Political Consultants Hall of Fame. He is Senior Advisor for Teneo Strategy.

New Hampshire primaries: 5 takeaways

Story highlights

  • Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders rode anti-establishment anger to victories in New Hampshire
  • John Kasich finished second after pouring time and resources here, but faces a tough road ahead
  • Hillary Clinton struggled with women and young people, losing each group to Sanders

Concord, New Hampshire (CNN)The anti-establishment revolution the polls promised for months happened in New Hampshire Tuesday night when Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders won the first-in-the-nation primaries.

John Kasich needed a big night — and got it with a second-place finish. Meanwhile, Marco Rubio rode into the Granite State with a chance to clear out the establishment lane and instead found himself trying to squeak by Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush.

New Hampshire primary: Trump, Sanders win

Here are the takeaways from the New Hampshire primaries:

Donald Trump is for real

So he missed a rally because he’d gotten snowed into his Manhattan home. So he complained he might miss the Super Bowl because he’d had to drive so far to get to a town hall. So he didn’t have the staff on the ground to compete with other Republicans.

First on CNN: Trump describes New Hampshire victory

First on CNN: Trump describes New Hampshire victory 05:24

Trump isn’t playing by anyone’s rules, and it didn’t hurt him here.

After a close second-place finish in Iowa and a big win in New Hampshire, and with a clear lead in the national polls, it’s hard to argue that Donald Trump isn’t the Republican presidential front-runner.

He could stay that way for a while, too: The muddle behind him — particularly with Rubio’s establishment support collapsing after a weak debate performance — means those who don’t support him will still be split among several options.

In one respect, the hard part of the campaign is nearly over for Trump. Iowa and New Hampshire voters are used to the sort of retail politicking that requires dozens of town hall events and multiple in-person meetings.

On Super Tuesday, though, Trump’s ability to draw in the masses from miles away — and his command of national media attention — will prove much tougher to match for opponents who were willing to put in the first two states’ requisite shoe-leather work.

Bernie Sanders is going national

This can’t be dismissed as a one-off win by a politician from a neighboring state. In less than a year, Sanders has turned a hopeless quest into a serious threat to Clinton’s ability to win the Democratic nomination — and has already stopped a coronation.

Bernie Sanders is the first Jewish candidate to win a primary. Does he care?

The Vermont senator’s credibility with the party’s progressive base (“we don’t need no super PAC,” his supporters chanted Tuesday night) and his huge edge among young voters mean that while Clinton might have structural advantages as the race moves forward, Sanders isn’t going away soon.

Bernie Sanders' New Hampshire victory speech

Bernie Sanders’ New Hampshire victory speech 27:39

His campaign is set to hit the television airwaves in four states — Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Oklahoma — that vote in March.

“Listen, people need to start to understand something: We are a better campaign. We are a better-organized campaign. We have more people on the ground,” Sanders senior strategist Tad Devine told CNN at the campaign’s victory party.

Sanders used his victory speech to celebrate grass-roots campaign and host a “national” fundraiser, once again using his platform to call for small-dollar donations and rail against corporate and mega-donor money.

The Vermont senator weathered a series of attacks from Clinton and establishment Democrats who say he can’t win in November and is making promises to voters he can’t keep. And he said he anticipates more attacks.

“They have thrown everything at me except the kitchen sink,” he said, “and I have a feeling that kitchen sink is coming at me pretty soon as well.”

Clinton has work to do

Hillary Clinton lost women. She was crushed among men. And with young voters, she was absolutely demolished.

Worse yet: Her campaign — and her surrogates — have managed to alienate many of the Sanders supporters who previously had nothing against Clinton by casting Sanders as living in a fantasy-land and his female supporters as being traitors to their gender.

New Hampshire exit polls

Clinton pressed the message that she’s the Democrat best able to address specific problems in her concession speech Tuesday night.

“People have every right to be angry, but they’re also hungry — they’re hungry for solutions. What are we going to do?” she said.

Hillary Clinton concedes New Hampshire primary

Hillary Clinton concedes New Hampshire primary 02:57

But the hang-wringing had already started amid reports in Politico and elsewhere that Clinton is eyeing a staff shakeup and a more forward-looking message.

Jim Demers, Barack Obama’s 2008 co-chair and an early 2016 Clinton supporter, says message discipline hurt Clinton’s New Hampshire campaign.

“I actually believe we talked about too many issues,” Demers said. “She had a really broad discussion about every issue there was and Bernie Sanders stayed focused on one message. And that resonated.”

Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook tried to calm the nerves of the former secretary of state’s supporters, issuing a memo instructing supporters to forget New Hampshire, and not sweat Nevada and South Carolina too much, either.

“The nomination will very likely be won in March, not February, and we believe that Hillary Clinton is well positioned to build a strong — potentially insurmountable — delegate lead next month,” Mook said in a memo released at 8 p.m. ET, just as New Hampshire’s polls closed.

Kasich-mentum?

Trump won despite ignoring the traditional rules of primary politics, but John Kasich finished second — injecting new life into his campaign — because he followed them.

Kasich on second place finish

Kasich on second place finish 01:42

The Ohio governor held 100 town hall events across New Hampshire, putting in the legwork in all parts of the state and breaking away from a jam-packed crowd of establishment candidates in the state most saw as their best opportunity to separate.

Perhaps the biggest reason for Kasich’s rise: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s takedown of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Christie didn’t benefit himself, but in Saturday night’s debate his hounding of Rubio halted his momentum.

The problem for Kasich, whose entire campaign hung on a strong finish in New Hampshire: Things are about to get a whole lot harder.

He could win in Ohio, which votes March 15. But the calendar is brutal until then. South Carolina’s primary is next, and it’s followed by a spate of southern states on March 1.

His moderate leanings — Kasich defends his expansion of Medicaid in Ohio as a moral decision — could make winning any of those states next to impossible. Kasich and his family have talked more openly about his faith in recent weeks, but he’s still facing opponents who for months have heavily courted evangelical voters.

Marco Rubio’s bad night

Marco Rubio: 'It's on me'

Marco Rubio: ‘It’s on me’01:52

Marco Rubio came into New Hampshire off a strong third-place finish in Iowa. A good finish here would have set him up well as the leader in the so-called establishment lane.

Instead, he finished behind Kasich, trying to keep up with Cruz and Bush.

Rubio’s repetition of the same anti-Obama line while Christie relentlessly hammered him during Saturday’s debate was widely lampooned online, putting one of Rubio’s strengths as a candidate — his ability to stay crisply on-message — into a potentially major liability.

“I did not do well on Saturday night, and that will never happen again,” Rubio said Tuesday.

Ted Cruz, meanwhile, may benefit the most from Rubio’s poor evening. Cruz’s campaign was obsessed with ending Rubio’s momentum in New Hampshire, and appears to have achieved that goal — guaranteeing at least another week and a half of divided donors, media attention and voter support for his establishment rivals.

Why You Should Be Concerned About The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act

Next Story

I really do wish I understood why lawmakers seem so gung-ho on tearing apart technologies they don’t understand, and freedoms they hardly think about. Frankly, it’s starting to get exhausting — and more than a little difficult to keep straight all the legal bungles belched out by senators and their lobbyists.

Until now, we’ve been lucky; most of the ill-conceived legislation has died on the Senate floor.

Unfortunately, it seems our luck may have run out. In a move that demonstrates a clear disinterest in listening to the people who actually know what they’re talking about, the United States House of Representatives in mid-December forced through a bill containing a $1.15 trillion spending plan, as well as controversial cybersecurity legislation — the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA). Because the two have so much to do with one another, right?

And as of December 18, the bill has been signed and passed into legislation. Merry Christmas, America. Hope you weren’t enjoying your privacy.

“In a nutshell, CISA was meant to allow companies to share information on cyber attacks — including data from private citizens — with other companies and the Department of Homeland Security,” writes Chris Velazco of Engadget. “Once DHS had all the pertinent details, they could be passed along to the FBI and NSA for further investigation and, potentially, legal action. The thing is, critics saw the bill as way for government agencies to more easily keep tabs on Americans without their knowledge. CISA was derided by privacy advocates and tech titans alike, with companies like Amazon, Apple, Dropbox, Google, Facebook and Symantec (to name just a few) issued statements against an earlier version of the bill.”

That’s right — some of the largest tech companies in the world came out as opponents ofCISA, and the government forced it through anyway. How bad is it, though? Should we really be that concerned?

The short answer is yes.

“This misguided cyber legislation does little to protect Americans’ security, and a great deal more to threaten our privacy than the flawed Senate version,” Senator Ron Wyden explained to Mashable. “Americans demand real solutions that will protect them from foreign hackers, not knee-jerk responses that allow companies to fork over huge amounts of their customers’ private data with only cursory review.”

This culture of fear that’s grown up around the Internet needs to be brought to heel.

“It contains substantially fewer oversight and reporting provisions than the Senate version did,” Wyden continued. “That means that violations of Americans’ privacy will be more likely to go unnoticed. And the Intelligence Authorization bill strips authority from an important, independent watchdog on government surveillance, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. This will make it easier for intelligence agencies — particularly the CIA — to refuse to cooperate with the Board’s investigations.”

In other words, organizations like the NSA and CIA now have even more government protections allowing them to play fast and loose with personal privacy. And our private information — already clearly at risk, given the large quantity of data breaches of late — is now even more freely available. This isn’t just a bad thing from a consumer perspective, though. It also has the potential to harm enterprise, too.

Consider the fact that the Snowden scandal might potentially cost U.S. businesses tens of billions of dollars, as non-Americans look to companies that they feel will actually respect their privacy. Now consider that we’ve just passed a law that effectively states, openly, that the NSA has access to personally identifiable information if there’s a breach. Surely, you see the issue, no?

This culture of fear that’s grown up around the Internet needs to be brought to heel. Because frankly, it’s starting to become absurd. And consider too: If lawmakers didn’t listen to companies about CISA, what else are they going to disregard?

FEATURED IMAGE: STUDIOSTOKS/SHUTTERSTOCK

AP Poll: Islamic State conflict voted top news story of 2015

Associated Press

CLICK IMAGE for slideshow: This image made from video posted online April 19, 2015 by supporters of the Islamic State militant group on an anonymous p...

CLICK IMAGE for slideshow: This image made from video posted online April 19, 2015 by supporters of the Islamic …

NEW YORK (AP) — The far-flung attacks claimed by Islamic State militants and the intensifying global effort to crush them added up to a grim, gripping yearlong saga that was voted the top news story of 2015, according to The Associated Press’ annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors.

The No. 2 story was the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that led to legalization of same-sex marriage in all 50 states. But several of the other stories among the Top 10 reflected the impact of the Islamic State, while another group of major stories related to the series of mass shootings in the United States.

Among the 100 voters casting ballots, first-place votes were spread among 17 different stories. The Islamic State entry received 37 first-place votes and same-sex marriage 13. The No. 3 story — the deadly attacks in Paris in January and November — received 14 first-place votes.

A year ago, the top story in AP’s poll was the police killings of unarmed blacks in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere — and the investigations and protests that ensued. In this year’s poll, a similar entry, with more instances of blacks dying in encounters with police, placed fifth.

The first AP top-stories poll was conducted in 1936, when editors chose the abdication of Britain’s King Edward VIII.

Here are 2015’s top 10 stories, in order:

1: ISLAMIC STATE: A multinational coalition intensified ground and air attacks against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, including expanded roles for Western European countries worried about IS-backed terrorism. For its part, IS sought to demonstrate an expansive reach by its operatives and supporters, claiming to have carried out or inspired the bombing of a Russian airliner, attacks in Beirut and Paris, and the deadly shooting in San Bernardino, California.

SLIDESHOW – Islamic State extremists

2: GAY MARRIAGE: Fifteen years after Vermont pioneered civil unions for same-sex couples, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in June enabling them to marry in all 50 states. Gay-rights activists heralded it as their movement’s biggest breakthrough, but there were flashes of disapproval. A county clerk in Kentucky, Kim Davis, spent a few days in jail after refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples in her jurisdiction.

SLIDESHOW – Supreme Court makes gay marriage the law of the land

CLICK IMAGE for slideshow: a man holds a U.S. and a rainbow flag outside the Supreme Court in Washington after the court legalized gay marriage nation...

CLICK IMAGE for slideshow: a man holds a U.S. and a rainbow flag outside the Supreme Court in Washington after …

3: PARIS ATTACKS: The first attack came just a week into the new year. Two brothers who called themselves members of al-Qaida barged into the offices of the satiric newspaper Charlie Hebdo, and later attacked a Jewish market, gunning down 17 people in all. Nov. 13 brought a far deadlier onslaught: Eight Islamic State militants killed 130 people in coordinated assaults around Paris. Targets included restaurants, bars and an indoor rock concert.

4: MASS SHOOTINGS: Throughout the year, mass shootings brought grief to communities across the U.S. and deepened frustration over the failure to curtail them. There were 14 victims in San Bernardino. Nine blacks were killed by a white gunman at a Charleston, South Carolina, church; a professor and eight students died at an Oregon community college. In Chattanooga, four Marines and a sailor were killed by a Kuwaiti-born engineer; three people, including a policeman, were shot dead at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado.

5: BLACK DEATHS IN ENCOUNTERS WITH POLICE: In Baltimore, riots broke out after the death of Freddie Gray, a black man loaded into a van by police officers. In Chicago, Tulsa and North Charleston, South Carolina, fatal police shootings of black men prompted resignations and criminal charges. The incidents gave fuel to the Black Lives Matter campaign, and prompted several investigations of policing practices.

6: TERRORISM WORRIES: Fears about terrorism in the U.S. surged after a married couple in California — described by investigators as radicalized Muslims — carried out the attack in San Bernardino that killed 14 people. The rampage inflamed an already intense debate over whether to accommodate refugees from Syria, and prompted Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump to call for a ban on Muslims coming to the U.S.

SLIDESHOW — Shooting in San Bernardino, California

This July 27, 2014 file photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows Tashfeen Malik, left, and her husband, Syed Farook, as they passed ...

This July 27, 2014 file photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows Tashfeen Malik, left, and her …

7: US ELECTION CAMPAIGN: A large and varied field of Republicans launched bids for the presidency, with billionaire Donald Trump moving out to an early lead in the polls and remaining there despite a series of polarizing statements. He helped attract record audiences for the GOP’s televised debates. In the Democratic race, Bernie Sanders surprised many with a strong challenge of Hillary Clinton, but she remained the solid front-runner.

8: CLIMATE CHANGE: Negotiators from nearly 200 countries reached a first-of-its kind agreement in Paris on curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Many questions remain over enforcement and implementation of the accord. But elated supporters hailed it as a critical step toward averting the grim scenario of unchecked global warming.

9: CHARLESTON CHURCH SHOOTING: A Bible study session at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, suddenly turned into carnage when a white gunman opened fire, killing nine blacks, including the pastor. The alleged killer’s affinity for the Confederate flag sparked debate over the role of Civil War symbols in today’s South. In less than a month, the flag was removed from the South Carolina State House grounds.

10: EUROPE’S MIGRANT CRISIS: Fleeing war and hardship, more than 1 million migrants and refugees flooded into Europe during the year, overwhelming national border guards and reception facilities. Hundreds are believed to have drowned; 71 others were found dead in an abandoned truck in Austria. The 28-nation European Union struggled to come up with an effective, unified response.

SLIDESHOW – ‘Lesbos, Greece: Hopes and Shattered Dreams’: Refugees fleeing war, and finding misery — and compassion — in a foreign land

View photo

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CLICK IMAGE for slideshow: Refugees arriving to the island of Lesbos fall out of a boat as it capsizes landing in rough seas coming from Turkey on Oct...

CLICK IMAGE for slideshow: Refugees arriving to the island of Lesbos fall out of a boat as it capsizes landing …

 

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Follow David Crary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CraryAP

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Myanmar election: Suu Kyi’s NLD wins landslide victory

  • 7 hours ago
  • From the sectionAsia
NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi (1 Nov 2015)Image copyrightGetty Images
Image captionThough she cannot be president, Aung San Suu Kyi has said she will lead Myanmar

Myanmar’s opposition National League for Democracy has won a landslide election victory, officials say.

With more than 80% of contested seats now declared, Aung San Suu Kyi’s party has more than the two-thirds it needs to choose the president, ending decades of military-backed rule.

A quarter of seats are automatically held by the military, meaning it remains hugely influential.

Under the constitution, Ms Suu Kyi cannot become president herself.

Despite this, the election was seen as the first openly contested poll in Myanmar – also known as Burma – in 25 years.

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Analysis: Jonah Fisher, BBC News, Yangon

Media captionJonah Fisher reports: Aung San Suu Kyi urged her supporters ”not to gloat”

Next stop for Aung San Suu Kyi are talks with President Thein Sein and the army Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing. They are likely to happen in Nay Pyi Taw next week.

There is plenty to discuss and Ms Suu Kyi is likely to try and reassure them that her government will be inclusive, and not purely made up from her NLD party.

Then there is the thorny issue of the upcoming “lame duck” parliamentary session. Incredibly, the members of the old pre-election Burmese parliament are due to gather next week for a final session that runs until the end of January.

It has full powers to pass legislation and with the vast majority of the MPs having been booted out on Sunday this could be an opportunity for all manner of consequence-free political skulduggery.

Only once the “lame duck” session ends will the new NLD-dominated parliament gather. It will immediately choose a new speaker, quite possibly Ms Suu Kyi, before selecting two vice-presidents and a president.

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By early Friday, the NLD needed two more votes to reach the threshold required for a majority.

Then at midday, the electoral commission said the party had taken 348 of the 664 seats in the two houses of parliament. This represents a two-thirds majority of the contested seats.

With votes still being counted, the NLD’s tally rose to 369 seats later in the day. The final tally is not expected for several days.

Confirmation of the victory came exactly five years since Ms Suu Kyi was released from house arrest by the military.

Chart showing Myanmar election results 2015
Myanmar President Thein Sein votes (8 Nov 2015)Image copyrightEPA
Image captionPresident Thein Sein has said he will respect the will of the people

The process of choosing a new president will begin in January, when the new parliament gathers.

Our correspondent Jonah Fisher says the election has been remarkable both in the peaceful and largely fair way it was run and by the response of the losing side.

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Does the NLD now control Myanmar?

Not really – it has enough seats in the upper and lower house to choose the president but the army has 25% of seats and controls key ministries, so they will need to work together.

Banner unveiled outside NLD headquarters in Yangon
Image captionThe NLD unveiled a banner outside their headquarters after the win was confirmed saying “The Way We Trust”

Will Aung San Suu Kyi be president?

No – the constitution, written by the military, bars people with foreign spouses or offspring, as she does, from the top job. The clause was widely seen as being written specifically to prevent her from taking office. But Ms Suu Kyi she has repeatedly said she would lead the country anyway if the NLD won.

Can the NLD just change the constitution?

No – the military can veto any moves to change it.

Was the election fair?

“Largely,” said Ms Suu Kyi. But hundreds of thousands of people, including the minority Muslim Rohingya, were not allowed to vote, and no voting took place in seven areas where ethnic conflict is rife.

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Current President Thein Sein and the head of the military had already said they would respect the outcome and work with the new government.

About 30 million people were eligible to vote in the election – turnout was estimated at about 80%.

Media captionAung San Suu Kyi: “There’s a lot more to be done, before our people feel secure enough to celebrate”

It was widely seen as a fair vote though there were reports of irregularities, and hundreds of thousands of people – including the Muslim Rohingya minority, who are not recognised as citizens – were denied voting rights.

The ruling military-backed Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP) – which won the last, widely criticised election five years ago – has so far gained about 5% of seats contested.

Desertification: The people whose land is turning to dust

  • 12 November 2015
  • From the sectionAfrica
Amadou Souare
Image caption“Here we live off the land and if it doesn’t work we are in so much trouble”, says Amadou Souare

The UN predicts over 50 million people will be forced to leave their homes by 2020 because their land has turned to desert. This is already happening in Senegal, writes Laeila Adjovi.

Cattle herder Khalidou Badara took me up a hill in Louga, northern Senegal, to describe to me how his area has changed.

“When I was a child, I did not even dare to walk up to here because the vegetation was so dense.

“But these past few years, the wind and sand have been taking over.

“There are almost no more trees, and the grass does not grow anymore, and so each year, we have to go further and further away to find grazing for our cattle.”

His life has become more complicated because of desertification.

He’s not the only one. The UN says land degradation affects 1.5 billion people globally.

Desertification is the persistent degradation of dry land ecosystems by human activities and by climate change.

It translates into scarcer rains and decreasing soil quality, which leads to less grazing for livestock and lower crop yield.

Lost land

Each year, UN figures say, 12 million hectares of land are lost. That’s land where 20 million tonnes of grain could have been grown.

People living off the land feel they have no choice but to migrate.

In another part of Louga – the village of Pendayayake – I met Cheikhou Lo.

Cheikhou Lo
Image captionCheikhou Lo says he can’t work because of the drought

He had sown hectares of peanuts and beans in the hope of selling them.

But lack of rain and soil erosion mean the peanuts and beans have not ripened.

His failed harvest is only good to feed animals.

Peanuts
Image captionCheikhou Lo’s peanut harvest has been ruined this year

“Years ago, there was more rain and we were able to produce more,” he told me.

“We could live on the crops until the next rainy season. Now, with that drought, we can’t work.

“If we had boreholes and sufficient means, we could grow vegetables, plant trees, and we could stay here”.

“But if not, many have to leave and go elsewhere to be able to survive.”

Forced to leave

His 27-year-old nephew Amadou Souare added that in the village there is only one borehole and not enough means to dig another one.

“Here we live off the land,” he said.

“And if that does not work, we are in so much trouble.”

Peanut farming
Image captionThere used to be much more rain in northern Senegal

Many young people from the village have left. Cheikou Lo’s own children, now adults, went to find jobs in Dakar.

Some have travelled to Gabon, others are planning to go to Europe or Brazil.

“We would rather they stayed here to develop the village but with no jobs and no means, how can we ask them to stay?” he asked.

A wall of trees

One project is trying to slow the effects of desertification.

The Great Green Wall initiative aims to create a barrier of vegetation in vulnerable areas across the continent, from Senegal to Djibouti.

The organisation says hundreds of thousands of trees have already been planted in the region.

In Senegal, the wall is intended to make a 545km (338 mile) long curtain of vegetation.

Women waiting at a borehole
Image captionPeople may not be able to wait the 10 years the trees will take to grow

The organisation also makes fodder banks for herders, vegetable gardens to prevent malnutrition and teaches children how to protect the environment.

The idea is to meet minimal living conditions so people can survive.

After all, El Hadj Goudiaby from the national agency of the Great Green Wall explained, the trees will only have an impact in 10-15 years’ time.

“Can people here really wait that long? No.”

Pushed by the desert

Month by month, people continue to leave. A few hours away, Dakar, the capital city, offers hope of a better life.

Malik Souare grew up in Pendayayake.

Unable to live off the land, he decided to move to Dakar, and found a job as a driver.

But now, he dreams of going even further away.

“You know, everyone wants to get ahead. So I would prefer to leave. Go to England maybe. That is the place where my hopes are now,” he said.

For more and more rural communities at the mercy of the environment, migration appears to be the only choice.

According to the UN, over 50 million people could move from the desertified areas of sub-Saharan Africa towards North Africa and Europe by 2020.

Pushed by the desert and pulled by opportunity, more and more people like Mr Souare will picture their future abroad.

Migrant crisis will decide Merkel’s future

  • 5 November 2015
  • From the sectionEurope
  • 1725comments
Angela MerkelImage copyrightGetty Images

Western Europe’s most powerful leader will survive – for now.

Angela Merkel has struck a truce with a key right-wing coalition partner unhappy about her stance on migration.

But the fact that there is another tricky meeting on Thursday emphasises that this is a reprieve not a final judgement.

The danger to Merkel from the refugee crisis may not be the stuff of front-page headlines in Britain, but it is real enough.

Some in Germany are seething at the seemingly limitless commitment the chancellor has made to take in anyone fleeing Syrian’s civil war.

One German politician told me he was in a meeting where he watched British ministers panic over David Cameron’s promise to take in 20,000 more refugees over the next five years.

“My country has to cope with that number every single week.”

Even those who have no cultural qualms are worried about how the country will deal with the sheer number of new people.

Mutti has applied balm to the wound, and covered it with a sticking plaster. It is what mothers do.

Angela Merkel’s nickname captures the sense of a leader of homely, sensible authority and comforting common sense.

Refugees on the German-Austrian borderImage copyrightEPA
Image captionGermany has attracted many people fleeing war in Syria

The verb “to Merkel” – prevaricate – could soon have a whole new meaning: she who dares, wins. Perhaps.

The sticking plaster could soon peel off, leaving the wound merely less politically visible, although still publicly festering.

She has risked her reputation on a gamble that at first sight seems totally out of character – “reckless” is not a word you would normally apply to her 10 years in power.

One usually loyal German politician told me her decision to open Germany’s borders to all refugees from Sudan and Syria was “madness”.

He said a mayor in his area was phoning him almost nightly in tears.

Threat of revolt

The political crisis came about because the leader of the Bavarian Conservative party, a member of her coalition, was threatening to revolt.

The writ of Mrs Merkel’s party, the Christian Democrats, does not run in Bavaria – they have their own Conservative party, the Christian Social Union.

Bavaria is funny like that. It even has its own embassy in Berlin, something the Edinburgh government has yet to achieve in London.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and CSU leader Horst SeehoferImage copyrightGetty Images
Image captionHorst Seehofer has won concessions from Mrs Merkel

Anyway, the CSU is somewhat further to the right than the Christian Democrats, and its leader, the Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer, gave Mrs Merkel aseries of ultimatums, the most serious being a limit to the number of migrants.

He didn’t get that in an agreement struck last weekend. But the joint paper by the two parties won him some concessions.

It started with an assertion that manages the difficult trick of being both contentious and bland: “The people in Germany trust in our ability to cope with even the most difficult challenges.”

The trusting people are then promised new “transit zones for speeded-up asylum procedures” – something Mrs Merkel’s other partners, the Social Democrats, don’t like at all.

There is also a two-year halt to reunifying refugee families and proposals for better co-operation with Austria – who Bavarians blame for not controlling the situation better.

Significant gamble

All this may have saved Mrs Merkel’s political bacon.

It doesn’t explain why she took this gamble in the first place.


Angela Merkel:

1954: Born Hamburg

1978: Earns physics doctorate with a thesis on quantum chemistry

1990: Joins CDU, and is elected to the Bundestag, almost immediately becoming minister for women and youth under Chancellor Helmut Kohl

1994: Becomes minister for environment and nuclear safety

2000: Becomes CDU leader

2005: Becomes chancellor

2009: Re-elected chancellor

2013: Wins a third term

Profile: Angela Merkel


With her scientific background as a chemist, she is often seen as the least ideological of politicians, one who objectively examines all the facts, listens to all the argument and then makes a rational decision, trying to bring all sides together.

One aide recalls that when he warned her no-one agreed with her position, she said: “That’s my job, to bring them onside.”

All this is true. But it also misses something.

Perhaps we could muse fancifully that as her specialty was quantum chemistry, where the apparently impossible occurs, she understands that observation of a situation changes the situation itself.

More likely the resonant entanglement is because she was brought up in East Germany when it was under communist rule, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor, and that she is, like many Germans of her generation, very aware of her country’s hideous past.

I was going to write “haunted” but I don’t think that is right – it is more that her decisions are informed by history, a courageous and conscious decision to do the right thing.

It is a decision to change her country.

Turkish people in GermanyImage copyrightGetty Images
Image captionTurkish people were long denied German citizenship

Germany is now more mixed, more multicultural than would have seemed possible a generation ago – indeed it was only in 2000 that it became much easier for the children of Turkish “guest workers” to become citizens.

That doesn’t mean that “the right thing” might not prove to be foolhardy and unworkable.

One senior diplomat I know argues this is very Merkel; she takes a decision without fully laying out the consequences, thus forcing the facts – and other politicians – to fall in line with the dynamic she has created.

It is an attractive theory but it doesn’t explain how Mrs Merkel thought she could throw the switch on an electro-magnet, pulling in the dispossessed from another continent, without providing the transport, food, medical support and bureaucratic effort to facilitate their travel to the newly promised land.

Europe as a whole is still struggling to cope with growing numbers of people looking for a better life.

Slipping authority

So some say Merkel’s race is run.

Her authority and popularity are slipping at home, her clout in Brussels diminishing.

We don’t know, but the next few months will be crucial.

She has yet to decide whether to run for another term in 2017, but there is no star on the horizon, no obvious competition from within her party or outside it.

Even as her poll ratings fall, they are nowhere near as low as those of the leader of her main rival party, the SPD.

Her decision whether to go for another five years as chancellor will almost certainly be dictated by the outcome of this crisis.

How she continues to manage it may also determine how history sees her, andwhat becomes of the European Union and Europe as a whole.

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