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Out in force: Massive women’s marches protest Trump

Women turned out in large numbers in cities worldwide on Jan. 21 to stage mass protests against U.S. President Donald Trump.

Hundreds of thousands of women —  many wearing pink knit “pussy”  hats — marched through downtown Washington, and also thronged the streets of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston to rebuke Trump on his first full day in the White House. People — about 75,000 — also marched in Madison.

The Women’s March on Washington appeared to be larger than the crowds that turned out the previous day to witness Trump’s inauguration on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

Organizers of the protest had told police they expected 200,000 people to attend but the crowd looked substantially bigger than that, stretching for about a mile and estimated at 500,000.

Thousands filed past the White House and were ushered back by Secret Service officers on horseback.

A planned march in Chicago grew so large organizers did not attempt to parade through the streets but instead staged a rally. Chicago police said more than 125,000 people attended.

The protests illustrated the depth of the division in the country which is still recovering from the 2016 campaign season. Trump stunned the political establishment by defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton, the first woman nominated for president by a major U.S. party.

“We’re just disturbed by everything Trump wants to do,” said Bonnie Norton, 35. She and Jefferson Cole, 36, brought their 19-month-old daughter Maren to the Washington march.

Although his party now controls both the White House and Congress, Trump faces entrenched opposition from segments of the public as he takes office, a period that is typically more of a honeymoon for a new president.

A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found Trump had the lowest favorability rating of any incoming U.S. president since the 1970s.

Thousands of women also took to the streets of Sydney, London, Tokyo and other cities in Europe and Asia in “sister marches” against Trump.

Trump wrote on Twitter on Saturday that “I am honored to serve you, the great American People, as your 45th President of the United States!” but made no mention of the protests. He attended an interfaith service at Washington National Cathedral.

SUBWAY OVERWHELMED

The Washington march stressed the city’s Metro subway system, with riders reporting enormous crowds and some end-of-line stations temporarily turning away riders when parking lots filled and platforms became too crowded.

The Metro reported 275,000 rides as of 11 a.m. Saturday, 82,000 more than the 193,000 reported at the same time on Jan. 20, the day of Trump’s inauguration and eight times normal Saturday volume.

By afternoon, the protest rally had been peaceful, a contrast to the day before when black-clad activists smashed windows, set vehicles on fire and fought with riot police who responded with stun grenades.

Many protesters on Jan. 21 wore knitted pink cat-eared “pussy hats,” a reference to Trump’s claim in the 2005 video that was made public weeks before the election that he grabbed women by the genitals.

The Washington march featured speakers, celebrity appearances and a protest walk along the National Mall.

Crowds filled more than ten city blocks of Independence Avenue in downtown Washington, with more people spilling into side streets and onto the adjoining National Mall.

In the crowd were well-known figures including Madonna and former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who waved to supporters as his walked his yellow Labrador dog, Ben.

WOMEN’S VOTES

Clinton won the popular vote in the Nov. 8 presidential election by around 2.9 million votes and had an advantage among women of more than 10 percentage points. Trump, however, won the state-by-state Electoral College vote which determines the winner.

Trump offered no olive branches to his opponents in his inauguration speech in which he promised to put “America First.”

“He has never seemed particularly concerned about people who oppose him, he almost fights against them instinctively,” said Neil Levesque, executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

The lawmakers who Trump will rely on to achieve his policy goals including building a wall on the Mexican border and replacing the 2010 healthcare reform law known as “Obamacare” may be more susceptible to the negative public opinion the march illustrates, Levesque said.

“Members of Congress are very sensitive to the public mood and many of them are down here this week to see him,” Levesque said.

At the New York march, 42-year-old Megan Schulz, who works in communications said she worried that Trump was changing the standards of public discourse.

“The scary thing about Donald Trump is that now all the Republicans are acquiescing to him and things are starting to become normalized,” Schulz said. “We can’t have our president talking about women the way he does.”

Women’s March goes global, 200,000 expected in D.C.

Organizers of today’s Women’s March on Washington expect more than 200,000 people to attend their gathering, a number that could exceed Trump’s swearing-in ceremony.

“In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore,” the statement says from the march organizers.

Women and other groups were demonstrating across the nation and as far abroad as Myanmar and Australia.

In Sydney, thousands of Australians marched in solidarity in the city’s central Hyde Park. One organizer said hatred, bigotry and racism are not only America’s problems.

The Washington gathering, which features a morning rally and afternoon march, comes a day after protesters set fires and hurled bricks in a series of clashes that led to more than 200 arrests. Police used pepper spray and stun grenades to prevent the chaos from spilling into Trump’s formal procession and evening balls.

About a mile from the National Mall, police gave chase to a group of about 100 protesters who smashed the windows of downtown businesses including a Starbucks, a Bank of America and a McDonald’s as they denounced capitalism and Trump.

“They began to destroy property, throw objects at people, through windows. A large percentage of this small group was armed with crowbars and hammers,” said the city’s interim police chief, Peter Newsham.

Six officers suffered minor injuries, he said.

The confrontation began an hour before Trump took the oath of office and escalated several hours later as the crowd of protesters swelled to more than 1,000, some wearing gas masks and with arms chained together inside PVC pipe. One said the demonstrators were “bringing in the cavalry.”

When some crossed police lines, taunting, “Put the pigs in the ground,” police charged with batons and pepper spray, as well as stun grenades, which are used to shock and disperse crowds. Booms echoed through the streets about six blocks from where Trump would soon hold his inaugural parade.

Some protesters picked up bricks and concrete from the sidewalk and hurled them at police lines. Some rolled large, metal trash cans at police. Later, they set fire to a limousine on the perimeter of the secured zone, sending black smoke billowing into the sky during Trump’s procession.

As night fell, protesters set a bonfire blocks from the White House and frightened well-dressed Trump supporters as they ventured to the new president’s inaugural balls. Police briefly ordered ball goers to remain inside their hotel as they worked to contain advancing protesters.

Police said they charged 217 people with rioting, said Newsham, noting that the group caused “significant damage” along a number of blocks.

Before Inauguration Day, the DisruptJ20 coalition, named after the date of the inauguration, had promised that people participating in its actions in Washington would attempt to shut down the celebrations, risking arrest when necessary.

It was unclear whether the groups will be active on Saturday.

The Women’s March on Washington features a morning rally with a speaking lineup that includes a series of celebrities, Scarlett Johansson, America Ferrara, Amy Schumer, Frances McDormand and Zendaya, among them.

Christopher Geldart, the District of Columbia’s homeland security director, said he expects the march to draw more than 200,000. He said 1,800 buses have registered to park in the city on Jan. 21, which would mean nearly 100,000 people coming in just by bus.

Friday’s protests spread across the nation, including to Milwaukee and Chicago.

In San Francisco, thousands formed a human chain on the Golden Gate Bridge and chanted “Love Trumps hate.” In the city’s financial district, a few hundred protesters blocked traffic outside an office building partly owned by Trump.

In Atlanta, protests converged at City Hall and a few hundred people chanted and waved signs protesting Trump, denouncing racism and police brutality and expressing support for immigrants, Muslims and the Black Lives Matter movement.

In Nashville, half a dozen protesters chained themselves to the doors of the Tennessee Capitol. Hundreds also sat in a 10-minute silent protest at a park while Trump took the oath of office. Organizers led a prayer, sang patriotic songs and read the Declaration of Independence aloud.

In the Pacific Northwest, demonstrators in Portland, Oregon, burned U.S. flags and students at Portland State University walked out of classes. About 200 protesters gathered on the Capitol steps in Olympia, Washington, carrying signs that included the messages “Resist Trump” and “Not My Problem.”

Saffron harvest offers jobs, opportunity in Afghanistan

It is early morning in a saffron field outside the western Afghan city of Herat and dozens of women are harvesting the delicate purple flowers, working quickly to gather as many as they can before the sun gets too hot.

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, selling for as much as $1,200-$1,800 a kilogram, and has long been seen as an alternative crop to opium poppies for poor farmers in a country struggling with the legacy of decades of war and lawlessness.

So far, it has had little impact on the opium trade which the United Nations estimates is worth some $3 billion a year in Afghanistan, source of most of the world’s opium, from which heroin is produced.

Even so, the Afghan saffron industry has grown and is establishing a reputation for quality in a market still dominated by neighboring Iran, which accounts for almost 90 percent of global production.

“There is a huge demand for Afghan saffron,” said Bashir Ahmad Rashidi, head of the Ariana Saffron Company, which exports to countries from France to Turkey, India and the United States.

Just as importantly, it offers work for women whose employment opportunities are otherwise limited.

“We are very happy about saffron cultivation because it has paved the way for women to find jobs,” said Khanum Rassoli, who leads a team picking flowers for Ariana Saffron. “…It’s mostly women doing the harvesting and processing.”

Known to have been cultivated in what is now Afghanistan at least 2,000 years ago, saffron is well suited to the dry climate, heavily labor intensive but requiring little sophisticated machinery or capital.

The harvest is a tricky operation that begins in October and lasts just three weeks before the flowers begin to die. Workers pick about 10 kg of flowers a day, earning some 25 afghani ($0.38) per kilo.

BRIGHT SPOT

Once the flowers are picked, tiny orange stigmas are separated by hand for drying with about 450,000 stigmas needed to produce just one kilogram of the sharp and fragrant spice, used for seasoning and coloring from southern Europe to South Asia.

Afghanistan produces around four tons a year, a figure dwarfed by the more than 200 tons Iran produces, but it is a rare bright spot in an economy struggling to get to its feet.

“Over the past two years, we’ve seen saffron having a good impact on the economy of families and our country,” said Rashidi from his office in the ancient city of Herat.

The industry was revived by refugees returning from Iran in the 1990s and much work has gone into establishing Afghan saffron as an international brand.

However competition from Iran is fierce, reflecting the experience in other sectors where cheap imports pose a threat to the emergence of a strong local industry.

“We can find Iranian saffron in Herat saffron markets and I hope those who import Iranian saffron into Afghanistan think about the quality of Afghan saffron compared to Iranian saffron,” Rashidi said.

The other challenge is opium, far and away Afghanistan’s biggest export. Government programs and Western donors provide assistance but loosening the grip of drugs networks, including those run by Taliban militants, is a distant target.

However the World Bank estimates more than 6,000 farmers in Herat already produce saffron and the latest U.N. figures indicate that opium cultivation decreased in both Herat and neighboring Farah province last year.

Gul Ahmad, a farmer, said with more help, the industry will develop further.

“Saffron is better than poppy because poppy cultivation caused negative impacts on society and the young generation,” he said. “Saffron is a legal business and it produces a good income.”

Half world’s population online by end of 2016

By the end of 2016, almost half of the world’s population will be online as mobile networks grow and prices fall, but their numbers will remain concentrated in the developed world, a United Nations agency said.

In the world’s developed countries about 80 percent of the population use the internet. But only about 40 percent in developing countries and less than 15 percent in less-developed countries are online, according to a report by the U.N.’s International Telecommunications Union.

In several of Africa’s poorer and more fragile countries, only one person in 10 is on the internet. The offline population is female, elderly, less educated, poorer and lives in rural areas, said the union, a specialized agency for information and communication technologies.

Globally, 47 percent of the world’s population is online, still far short of a U.N. target of 60 percent by 2020. Some 3.9 billion people, more than half the world’s population, are not. ITU expects 3.5 billion people to have access by the end of this year.

“In 2016, people no longer go online, they are online. The spread of 3G and 4G networks across the world had brought the internet to more and more people,” the report said.

Telecoms and internet companies are expanding as more affordable smartphones encourage consumers to browse the internet, causing demand to grow for data-heavy services. However, less-developed countries – LDCs – still trail the rest of the world.

“Internet penetration levels in LDCs today have reached the level enjoyed by developed countries in 1998, suggesting that the LDCs are lagging nearly 20 years behind the developed countries,” the report said.

It blamed the cost of services and of extending infrastructure to rural and remote customers and the high price of mobile cellular use.

Wind could power 20 percent of world’s electric by 2030

Wind power could supply as much as 20 percent of the world’s total electricity by 2030 due to dramatic cost reductions and pledges to curb climate change, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) said in a report released in Beijing on Tuesday.

If last year’s Paris climate accord leads to a worldwide commitment to the decarbonization of the electricity sector, total wind power capacity could reach as much as 2,110 gigawatts (GW) by then, nearly five times its current level, the industry group said.

Such an increase in capacity would involve annual investment of 200 billion euros ($224 billion) and would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 3.3 billion tonnes per year, it said.

It forecast that China’s share of the total would reach 666.5 GW, more than quadrupling its current capacity.

The group said total global wind power installations stood at 433 GW by the end of last year, up 17 percent from a year earlier, and are set to rise by around 60 GW in 2016.

Much of the increase was driven by China, which accounted for 145.4 GW at the end of 2015, 33.6 percent of the total. China built 30.8 GW of new wind power capacity over the year, the highest annual addition by any country, the wind council said.

But the pace of capacity additions could fall in 2016, with China still struggling to find enough transmission capacity to take on the huge numbers of new turbines being built.

China’s energy regulator said in July that 21 percent of all wind-generated electricity was wasted in the first half of the year, due also to slowing electricity demand growth as well as the completion of new coal-fired power plants, which made it harder for wind projects to access the grid.

Wasted power – known as curtailment – stood at more than 40 percent in the distant northwestern provinces of Gansu and Xinjiang, where grid capacity is relatively weak, the regulator said.

The wind council said curtailment remained a “major challenge” for China, but the situation was likely to improve over the medium term as regulators work to solve the transmission bottlenecks.

Warm ocean ‘blob’ facilitated vast toxic algae bloom

A new study finds that unusually warm Pacific Ocean temperatures helped cause a massive bloom of toxic algae that closed lucrative fisheries from California to British Columbia and disrupted marine life from seabirds to sea lions.

Scientists linked the large patch of warm ocean water, nicknamed the “blob,” to the vast ribbon of toxic algae that flourished in 2015 and produced record-breaking levels of a neurotoxin that is harmful to people, fish and marine life.

The outbreak of the toxin domoic acid, the largest ever recorded on the West Coast, closed razor clam seasons in Washington and Oregon and delayed lucrative Dungeness crab fisheries along the coast. High levels were also detected in many stranded marine mammals.

“We’re not surprised now having looked at the data, but our study is the first to demonstrate that linkage,” said Ryan McCabe, lead author and a research scientist at the University of Washington’s Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean. “It’s the first question that everyone was asking.”

McCabe and his co-authors explain how the toxic algae bloom thrived in their study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Seasonal algae blooms are common each year along the West Coast, but most are not toxic. The scientists found that the algae bloom was dominated by a single species called “Pseudo-nitzschia australis” that is highly toxic.

The algae survived and took advantage of warm, nutrient-poor conditions set up by the patch of water that was warmer at the surface than normal.

Coastal upwelling last spring — a seasonal event that brings nutrient-rich, cooler waters up from the deep ocean — provided nutrients for the algae to bloom into a large population fairly quickly at sea. Finally, a series of late spring storms delivered the bloom to the coast.

“While temperature isn’t everything, it’s serving as a decent proxy,” said McCabe. “We think there’s a linkage between toxic events along our coast and climate variability indices.”

The blob was a one-time event that was not due to global warming, “but we are looking at this event as a potential window into the future as what conditions could look like,” McCabe said.

Kathi Lefebvre, a co-author and marine biologist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, said the bloom resulted in the highest levels of domoic acid contamination in the food web ever recorded for many species.

Domoic acid accumulates in anchovies, sardines and other small fish as well as shellfish that eat the algae.

Marine mammals and fish-eating birds in turn can get sick from eating the contaminated fish. In people, it can trigger amnesic shellfish poisoning, which can cause permanent loss of short-term memory in severe cases.

Sea lions in California commonly experienced seizures, a common sign of domoic acid poisoning, during harmful algae blooms along that state’s coast. But 2015 was the first year that such harmful effects were documented as far north as Washington state, scientists said.

“This is an eye-opener for what the future may hold as ocean conditions continue to warm globally,” Lefebvre said.

Worldwide Pride: Celebrations around the globe

“Solidarity Through Pride” is the theme uniting the many LGBT Pride events — picnics and parades, protests and rallies — taking place in 2016 around the globe.

Some Pride dates around the world …

June

= June: Colombia Pride Diversa in Bogota; Budapest Pride in Hungary; Edinburgh Pride Scotia in Scotland; and Istanbul Pride.

= June 1-4: Tel Aviv Pride.

= June 4: Aarhus Pride in Denmark.

= June 3-12: Edmonton Pride in Canada.

= June 11: Athens Pride; Bali Pride in Indonesia.

= June 11-12: Blackpool Gay Pride in England.

= June 13: Roma Pride in Rome.

= June 13-19: Baltic Pride in Lithuania.

= June 17-26: Shanghai Pride.

= June 16-20: Sitges Pride in Spain.

= June 17-26: Oslo Pride.

= June 18-21: Korea Queer Festival and Parade in Seoul.

= June 18-25: Milano Pride in Italy.

= June 22-26: Gay Pride Dublin.

= June 23-28: Mexico City Pride.

= June 24-July 3: Toronto Pride.

= June 25: Paris Gay Pride March.

= June 25-26: London Pride.

= June 26: Bologna Pride in Italy.

= June 27-July 3: Helsinki Gay Pride in Finland.

= June 29-July 3, Madrid Pride Festival.

July

= July 1-3: Cologne Pride.

= July 2: Paris Pride.

= July 4-9: Luxembourg Pride.

= July 9-10: Munich Pride.

= July 13-17: Limerick Pride.

= July 15-17: CSD Frankfurt in Germany.

= July 16-23: Berlin Pride.

= July 25-31: Stockholm Pride in Sweden.

= July 29-Aug. 7: Belfast Gay Pride.

= July 30-Aug. 7: Hamburg Gay Pride.

= July 31: Vancouver Gay Pride.

August

= August: Cornwall, Cymru, Doncaster and Kent Prides in the United Kingdom.

= Aug. 2-7: Reykjavik Pride in Iceland.

= Aug. 5-7, EuroPride in Amsterdam.

= Aug. 8-14: Fierte Montreal Pride and Prague Pride in the Czech Republic.

= Aug. 10-14, Antwerp Pride in Belgium.

= Aug. 16-21: Copenhagen Pride.

= Aug. 17-24: Mykonos XLsior in Greece.

= Aug. 26-29: Manchester Pride.

= Aug. 26-Sept. 5: Pride Calgary.

September

= September: Quebec City Pride; Brisbane Pride; Leicester Pride and Lincoln Pride in England.

= Sept. 5-11: Benidorm Gay Pride in Spain.

= Sept. 26-Oct. 2: Curaçao Pride in the Caribbean.

October

= October: Johannesburg Pride.

= Oct. 10-18: Gran Canaria: Fetish Week in Spain.

= Oct. 27-31: Amsterdam Leather Pride.

= Oct. 29: Taiwan LGBT Pride in Taipei.

= Oct. 29-Nov. 3: Canberra Queer Festival in Australia.N

November

= November: Buenos Aires Gay Pride; Hong Kong Pride; Gay Pride Brazil in Rio de Janeiro; Tas Pride Festival in Tasmania, Australia.

= Nov. 14: Adelaide Pride March in Australia.

DECEMBER

= Dec. 6: Manila Metro Pride

 

Alan Cumming hosts UN LGBT gala

Scottish actor and activist Alan Cumming says he was pleased to host the first LGBT gala ever held at the United Nations, but he also finds it a bit silly that it’s taken so long.

“Well I think it’s sort of like a little chink in the armor of bigotry on a worldwide level because it is symbolic that this is happening in this institution and also kind of ridiculous at the same time that this is the first time anything like this has happened at the U.N.,” Cumming said.

The gala in mid-May, sponsored by Outright Action International, marked a turning point at the U.N., which only last August held the first Security Council meeting spotlighting violence and discrimination against LGBT people.

The gala honored Indonesian gay rights activist Yuli Rustinawati and her organization, Arus Pelangi, just as her government was considering a law that defines threats to national security so broadly that LGBT and human rights defenders could be considered criminals.

Hearing about the proposed law, Cumming scoffed: “I mean if the state needs to be threatened with the idea of equality then good. I hope those homosexuals do threaten the state. I mean if they threaten with equality, it’s not so bad.”

— AP

UN hears major differences on global approach to drugs

Jamaica defended its decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana. Iran said it seized 620 tons of different types of drugs last year and is helping protect the world from “the evils of addiction.” Cuba opposed the legalization of drugs or declaring them harmless.

The first U.N. General Assembly special session to address global drug policy in nearly 20 years heard major differences on the approach to drug use on its second day on April 20.

On the liberalization side, Canada’s Health Minister Jane Philpott announced that the government will introduce legislation to legalize marijuana next spring. She said Canada will ensure that marijuana is kept out children’s hands, and will address the devastating consequences of drugs and drug-related crimes.

Jamaica’s Foreign Minister Kamina Johnson Smith told delegates that the government amended the Dangerous Drugs Act last year to give tickets for possession of less than two ounces of cannabis instead of making it a felony offense, and to legalize the sacramental use of marijuana by Rastafarians. It also established provisions for the medical, scientific and therapeutic uses of the plant, she said.

Smith said Jamaica is finalizing a five-year national drug plan including programs to reduce demand for drugs, provide for early intervention and treatment of drug users, and promote rehabilitation and social reintegration.

Michael Botticelli, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, stressed that “law enforcement efforts should focus on criminal organizations — not on people with substance use disorders who need treatment and recovery support services.”

He called for drug policies in every country to address the needs of underserved groups including women and children, indigenous people, prisoners, and lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people.

On the tough enforcement side, Indonesia’s Ambassador Rachmat Budiman said “a zero-tolerance approach” is needed to suppress and eliminate the scourge of drugs.

He said drug trafficking rings are using new “psychoactive substances” and the Internet to penetrate all levels of society, including the young generation, and pose “a serious threat which requires extraordinary efforts.”

Like Indonesia, Iran imposes the death penalty on drug traffickers.

Iran’s Justice Minister Abdulreza Rahmani Fazli told the high-level meeting that the Islamic Republic has spent billions of dollars in its campaign against armed drug traffickers.

He said Iran is ready to host an international conference on countering drugs and drug-related crimes along the Balkan route, one of the two main heroin trafficking corridors linking opium-producing Afghanistan to the huge markets of Russia and Western Europe. It usually goes through Pakistan to Iran, Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria across southeastern Europe to the Western European market, and has an annual market value of some $28 billion, according to the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime known as UNODC.

Fazli said the conference, in collaboration with the UNODC and countries on the route, would tackle ways to combat drug-related money laundering and detect drug trafficking ringleaders.

Cuba’s Justice Minister Maria Esther Reus Gonzalez asked how the world couldn’t be worried when the world drug problem has become “deeper and more intensified” with 246 million people using illicit drugs, according to UNODC.

“It will be really difficult to solve the problems of mass production of and trafficking in drugs from the South, if the majority demand from the North is not eliminated,” she warned.

Reus Gonzalez also warned that legalizing drugs won’t solve the problem either and will only open “more dangerous gaps for the stability of our nations.” She reiterated “Cuba’s absolutely commitment to achieving societies free of illicit drugs.”

34 countries don’t have enough food for their people

Thirty-four countries don’t have enough food for their people because of conflicts, drought and flooding, according to a new report from the United Nations.

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s Crop Prospects and Food Situation report said conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and the Central African Republic have taken a heavy toll on agricultural production, worsening the humanitarian crisis in those countries.

And the impact of these conflicts extends to neighboring countries that are hosting refugees, straining food resources in those countries, it said.

Congo is not only dealing with almost 100,000 refugees from Central African Republic but conflict in the east where an estimated 1.5 million people are displaced and flooding related to El Nino which has affected about half a million people, the report said.

FAO said drought associated with El Nino has “sharply reduced” 2016 crop production prospects in southern Africa. It said dry conditions linked to El Nino may also affect the planting of crops for the main growing season in areas of Central America and the Caribbean for the third consecutive year.

Dry conditions have also lowered expectations for harvests this year in Morocco and Algeria, the report said.

FAO also warned that drought and floods in North Korea in 2015 “sharply decreased” food crop production in the early and main growing seasons.

“With a reduced harvest in 2015, the food security situation is likely to deteriorate compared to the situation of previous years, when most households were already estimated to have borderline or poor food consumption rates,” the report said.

The number of countries needing outside food assistance grew from 33 in December, after the addition of Swaziland where El Nino-associated drought conditions have sharply lowered 2016 cereal crop production prospects.

Other countries on the FAO list facing food shortages are Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Guinea, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Nepal.

The report said elsewhere, the outlook for 2016 crops already in the ground, mostly winter grains in the northern hemisphere, is generally favorable and early forecasts indicate large wheat crops in most Asian countries.

FAO’s first forecast for wheat production in 2016 is 723 million tons. That’s 10 million tons below the record output in 2015.

World shudders at prospect of Donald Trump in Oval Office

Donald Trump’s breathtaking string of Super Tuesday victories led politicians, editorial writers and ordinary people worldwide to reflect on the growing possibility the brash New York billionaire might become America’s next president — a thought that aroused widespread befuddlement and a good deal of horror.

“The Trump candidacy has opened the door to madness: for the unthinkable to happen, a bad joke to become reality,” German business daily Handelsblatt wrote in a commentary for its Thursday edition. “What looked grotesque must now be discussed seriously.”

There was also glee from some Russian commentators at how American politics is being turned topsy-turvy in 2016. And in Latin America, Ecuador’s president predicted a Trump win could boomerang and become a blessing to the continent’s left.

However, the dominant reaction overseas to the effective collapse of the Republican Party establishment in the face of the Trump Train appeared to be jaw-dropping astonishment, mixed with dread at what may lie ahead.

‘Dumbfounded’ over Donald Trump’s popularity

“The meteoric rise of the New York magnate has left half the planet dumbfounded,” wrote columnist Andrea Rizzi in Spain’s leading newspaper, El Pais.

“To consider Donald Trump a political clown would be a severe misconception,” said another European daily, Salzburger Nachrichten. If Trump is elected to the White House, the Austrian paper predicted, his ideas “would bring major dangers for the USA and the world … basically a nationalist-chauvinist policy that would make America not great but ugly, and risk the stability of the international order.”

Eytan Gilboa, an expert on U.S.-Israeli relations at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, said the best word to describe Israeli feelings about Trump is “confusion.”

There are certain parts of him that Israelis can relate to, such as his aversion to political correctness, his tough stance on Islamic terrorism and his call for a wall with Mexico to provide security, Gilboa said.

But others have been particularly jarring to Israelis, such as comments about Jews that many consider insensitive and his derision of U.S. Sen. John McCain’s captivity in Vietnam.

“This is something that every Israeli would reject. It’s a highly sensitive issue in a country where prisoners of war are heroes and people go out of their way to release them,” he said.

Trump has drawn concern in China, but not a huge amount of attention despite Trump repeatedly invoking the Asian giant during his campaign to cite U.S. weakness that he would turn around, accusing Beijing of manipulating its currency, stealing American jobs and unfair competition.

Chinese may not be taking his comments too seriously because they believe he won’t be elected or that he’d modulate his positions once elected, said Xiong Zhiyong, international relations expert at China Foreign Affairs University.

“If, hypothetically, Trump became the U.S. president and he held on to his stance and proposals made during the election, China-U.S. relations would be in big trouble in many aspects such as security and economics,” he said. “In that case, the U.S. foreign relations policies will undergo a huge change.”

Thuraya Ebrahim al Arrayed, a member of Saudi Arabia’s top advisory body, the Shura Council, said a Trump presidency would be “catastrophic” and set the world back “not just generations, but centuries.”

“We pray to God that a racist, politically incorrect personality does not win the election,” she said. “How can he tell Muslim students going there to study he will shut the door in Muslim faces?”

Writing in the Financial Times of London, Martin Wolf summed up the mood of a good share of Europe’s business and economic elite, arguing that it would be a “global disaster” if Trump, who won seven states in Tuesday’s Republican contests, made it all the way to the Oval Office.

“Mr. Trump is a promoter of paranoid fantasies, a xenophobe and an ignoramus. His business consists of the erection of ugly monuments to his own vanity. He has no experience of political office. Some compare him to Latin American populists. He might also be considered an American Silvio Berlusconi, albeit without the charm or business acumen,” Wolf wrote.

He also said Berlusconi, a former Italian prime minister and media tycoon, “unlike Mr. Trump never threatened to round up and expel millions of people.”

Wolf’s verdict: “Mr. Trump is grossly unqualified for the world’s most important political office.”

A Japanese online commentator used much the same language, and likened the Republican front-runner to the evil nemesis of wizard Harry Potter.

Trump’s unexpected political rise reflects “elitism and opposition to globalization, but at its heart is a xenophobia and populism that comes from ignorance,” said Masato Kimura, former London bureau chief for the conservative newspaper Sankei Shimbun. “Although this is another country’s election, Japan’s allies should raise their voices to help prevent the birth of a ‘Voldemort’ president in the United States.”

In the Mexican newspaper Reforma, columnist Sergio Aguayo compared anti-Mexican sentiments unleashed by Trump to the anti-communist Red Scares of the 20th century, and accused Trump of igniting a “brown panic.”

“We must answer again and again Donald Trump, and make the U.S. government understand that we’re not willing to continue being pointed out as the only ones responsible for problems that are also caused by the United States,” Aguayo wrote.

La Jornada, a leftist Mexican paper, ran a caricature of Trump wearing a “KKK” necktie and declaring, “I will make cremation ovens for the Mexicans and Muslims … and they will pay for their construction!”

In the moderate and predominantly Muslim West African nation of Senegal, Mame Ngor Ngom, editor-in-chief of La Tribune, a weekly newspaper, expressed hope that in the final analysis, Americans will not be “so thoughtless” as to hand Trump their country’s highest office.

“We think that the Americans won’t vote for him. They already paid the consequences with George W. Bush. … Donald Trump will fail,” the Senegalese journalist predicted.

In Russia, some took delight in how messy U.S. politics have become.

The popularity of Trump and Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders, who took four states on Tuesday compared to the seven won by Hillary Clinton, “bears witness to the crisis of trust in such traditional clans” as the Bushes and the Clintons, wrote Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament, in a post on Facebook.

According to Alexander Dugin, a Russian nationalist ideologue with close ties to the Kremlin, Trump “is sometimes disgusting and violent, but he is what he is. It is true America.”

In Europe, where some also feel their nations are being submerged by waves of foreign migrants and violent Islamic radicalism is a real danger, not all have condemned Trump. Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of France’s far-right National Front, has said that if he were an American, he would cast his ballot for Trump. On Wednesday, Laurent Wauquiez, a French conservative lawmaker, said Trump’s popularity is revealing of a general trend that has traversed the Atlantic.

“What it shows is that in democracies today, citizens no longer want people to tell them what they should think, what they should say. That’s what makes Donald Trump seductive,” Wauquiez told France 2 Television.

In the northern Indian city of Lucknow, one software company executive said he has been impressed by Trump’s muscular rhetoric.

“Trump looks like a tough guy,” said Rohitash Sharma. “He has clarity of idea, and he means business. He has advocated the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, if these improve the protection and safety of the country. He has a clear road map on how to protect his country from extremist forces.”

Though no fan, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said a Trump presidential win could be a political gift to Latin America’s left, which is recovering from a string of electoral defeats in Argentina, Bolivia and Venezuela.

“The most convenient for Latin America is a Trump victory, because his rhetoric is so clumsy, so basic, that I think it would awaken reactions in Latin America,” Correa told a group of radio journalists Monday. “I think a guy like him would be very bad for the U.S. (but) for the progressive movement in Latin America, it could be positive.”

For weeks, a Canadian website has poked fun at Trump by inviting disaffected Americans to move to an island off Nova Scotia. On Super Tuesday, as the returns rolled in, searches for “How can I move to Canada” on Google spiked by more than 350 percent in four hours, Google editor Simon Rogers tweeted. A social media link posted by Toronto city councilman Norm Kelly that gives helpful directions on how to apply for Canadian citizenship received over 37,000 retweets.

Bruce Arthur, a Canadian sportswriter and political commentator, tweeted this after Super Tuesday: “To my American friends, I have an eight-person tent that I can set up in the forest behind my house but you may need your own air mattresses.”