Wow…no words. I have no words for the receding nature of American global leadership. President Trump embarked on a world tour where he signed an agreement for $110 billion dollars worth of arms sales with Saudi Arabia. (A nation noted for its human rights violations and that is just from 2016) Saudi Arabia, the land which helped produce 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers and Osama Bin Laden. A nation which the U.S. has helped bring along its oil economy since at least 1938 and continue up to this day despite the questionable nature of the Saudi citizen’s attitude towards millions of foreign national living and working on their soil. (I could write pages and pages about this, but that has been done in more eloquence by better people than I)

More importantly, Saudi Arabia represents the golden age of Oil. An age which many believe must be restrained and constrained due to the role of humans in shaping the environment around them. There are various views from the skepticism of the National Review to the non-professional scientist review and ranking of the abstracts (summary to inform the reader about an academic paper’s content) of scientific papers by the Guardian. While the National Review reputes the 97% statistic that many site to show the near certainty of human AFFECTED climate change, they do make the point that there is debate regarding how much of human activity is responsible for climate change, there is acceptance that climate change is happening in the article if you read close enough.

Now, President Trump has withdrawn the United States from the Paris Accords. Many of you have just cheered him…most likely because this is supposed, according to President Trump, to save American coal jobs. Because according to him, the agreement will lead to the United States having to reduce its coal production…wording which does not even exist within the agreement, CHECK THIS. Coal jobs won’t disappear due to this climate agreement, no. In fact I would guess (THIS IS MY EDITORIAL SECTION) that those jobs would be reduced as the energy sector shifts to automation and renewable energy. We would still need coal, so some would remain. But the nature of coal mining will change as technology changes. Automation is a greater threat to coal, much as it is to the automobile industry and every other industry. This is because industry seeks to be more efficient, and by and large efficiency is greater when machines perform the work with humans servicing and repairing the machines. Think I am off base? Check out the factory system now, most industrial facilities that are more efficient tend to be automated. So the very nature of coal mining jobs will change in the coming years and decades. (EDITORIAL OVER)

Another claim is that the Accord will lead to lower wages…bullshit.(THIS IS MY EDITORIAL SECTION) Technology sector jobs pay more due to specialization and a higher educated work force. Do they talk about how in tech industry areas or areas which generate jobs, such as some places in and around San Francisco, the cost of living is so high that a higher wage level is still considered “low-income“. No, instead they focus on depressed areas which are still determining how to develop to attract newer, higher wage jobs. Manufacturing just is not what it used to be in the early and mid 20th century. Part of this is education, and now that Betsy Devos is taking American education in a direction that many educators are skeptical about by reducing American investment in public schools and introducing a vague voucher system. All I know is that it seems that there is a desire by the government to reduce education spending in many ways…which seems counter-productive. If we want to lead the world we should educate our populace on world changing technologies. If you look at education spending graphs, statistics, and what not, you see that at this time Federal education spending is down and it has trended down since the mid-2000′s, and it is a fairly low part of the federal budget. (US Department of Ed statistics page was down so I settled for this web page) And some states have cut as much as 50% of their spending on higher education in recent years. My own state is down 43.6%. When you look at Federal spending as a whole, education is below health care, defense, pensions, welfare, and interest payments. Where am I going with this, didn’t I start with the idea of American leadership? Yes, here is the crux of my argument: If the United States wants to lead the world, and President Trump wants to “Make America Great Again”, shouldn’t we be investing in education to refocus education to begin leading in those technology industries? I know China is doing that, they are emphasizing engineering and science degrees and are turning away from coal to renewable energy source. And shouldn’t we be engaging the rest of the world in a forum that they agree upon in order to provide leadership? By removing our presence from the Paris Accords, President Trump (In my OPINION) is signaling an unwillingness to continue to provide leadership forward which America is reputed to have done since World War II. And with an increasingly interconnected world this will be disastrous. Look at the other nations which have cut themselves off from the world…North Korea comes to mind, China during the Ming Dynasty, Japan up until the mid 1800’s. Historically they have not fared well. And as the world continues to draw closer together, we will be left behind, and the struggles of what has been described as the greatest generation will have been for naught.

So what is my ultimate point? I feel that President Trump has pulled us out of the Paris Accords as a means of supporting an agenda pressed by people who do not understand the true nature of  sovereignty. This Accord did not seek to impose any sanction or punishment. It was a commitment to preserve our planet for our posterity…oh, a little bit of our Constitution snuck in here? Yes, I believe that part of securing the “…blessings of liberty for our posterity…” is ensuring that the planet is habitable. And I feel (EDITORIAL) that removing us from the Paris Accords, endangering our environment in the favor of business we are proving that this nation is not built upon those ideals. No, anymore that foundation has been usurped to support the almighty dollar. Our government is now in the hands of billionaires who have steered us into a place where workers’ wages are down, health care is un-affordable, and the interests of the people are often co-opted for those of corporate profits which enrich a small portion of the population. And for those who are religious, are we not supposed to be the stewards (or shepherds) of this earth? Does this not mean protecting it? Nurturing it? Ensuring that it will exist as a place of refuge and life for us? In short…*Sigh* Shit, we seemed to have our own heads up our collective asses.

So let’s recap; the best Chinese food is in the Middle East, Napoli pizza took my breath away, and street food is good everywhere (unless some bastard under cooks a meatball and you end up in the hospital after a horrible few days). I’ve covered Italian, Middle Eastern, and Chinese cuisine. But there is more…

I am one who adheres to the belief that food aids in the definition of culture. I believe that our very identities are wrapped up in food, everywhere. My earliest encounter with this was in the Costa Rica during a trip my Junior Year in high school. Of all the memories I gathered in that trip, the red beans and _______________ (add your accompanying dish here) was something which defines that trip for me. Even when I have not eaten the dish in 20 years. It is something that I can visualize and when I do the overpowering memory of taste takes me to that trip with fondness which outstrips my memory of any high school event ever.

Where am I going with this? Well, last post I wrote about street food and I am about to again. Most of us eat bread. And when we think of good bread we think of loaves or artisan breads which we’ve found that accompany a meal particularly well, sometimes we dwell upon the breads from a bakery which have been developed and perfected over a millennia of experimentation and crafting. I personally hold a great affinity for French Bakeries because, well what food person doesn’t really? Baguettes and other delicious creations come from there and go with everything from pasta to mixtures of oil and vinegar. But one of my favorite breads ever came from a place where I expected pasta to reign supreme.

In the city of La Spezia, Italy I found a bread which just thinking about makes my mouth salivate to the point of having to stop writing and drink something. I had roamed about the streets for the better part of a day with a friend. We didn’t find the layout to be anything near what Naples offered, but it was charming and we found interesting things here and there. But when we stopped in a small shop for a snack I discovered what I call Italian flatbread.

This bread was similar to that which use for panini’s, it looked like a flat Ciabatta with holes in it for some reason. When I tasted my purchase the buttery smoothness overwhelmed my taste buds and good sense. Over the duration of my visit there every meal involved that bread. I sought it out for snacks, and today I remember it fondly. I have tasted other delightful breads, but the memory of that one always brings a smile to my face. It makes me look into small shops to see what is there, that experience is what drove me to try things like Shwarma and other street culinary delights. That bread would be worth the difficulties of immigration…come to think of it, if anyone knows of a job in Italy I can get I’d head there in a heart beat!