Daniel Lombardi spent six weeks traveling the U.S. border with Mexico from West Texas to California, photographing the landscapes that history has sliced a political line through. He wanted to see if the landscape itself would reflect the debate that surrounds it. Would the political divisions be visible in the geography?

Culturally he found few dividing lines instead he found regional mixing zones where people and societies overlapped and mixed together. Geographically he found no distinct lines either, the rivers and canyons that mark the border served not to simplify but instead seemed to make political matters even more complex. Even the fencing seemed to bring chaos, starting and stopping illogically, and dividing landscapes that refuse to be divided, like rivers and sand dunes.

His images attempt to strip away partisan debate and show what the border really looks like. Without cable news blaring in the background what do we make of these borderlands?


I'd love to do a real data crunching type of study on this type of thing. But for now we'll have to settle for stupid jokes about how Africa was a shadowy-underwater thing... but now its the sun? Rising out of the ocean...? makes sense.

Actually the most sensible image is Time's cover where an African tree symbolizes the continent's rise... out of a city? What? Why is the city all Tetris-y? At least they didn't make some play on the shape of the continent. 

Mahajan's Book Africa Rising  turns the continent (except Madagascar?) into the moon. I'm not sure what to even say about that... super weird. Definitely not going to read that.

The weirdest is the Google image search picture I found where black (African?) men are raising an African... thing... 

My favorite is The Economist (after deciding the water shadow/sun wasn't good enough?) used a boy flying a fake African kite to symbolize the continent's economic rise on the global scale...

Ya know, the articles were confusing, I didn't really understand if Africa was rising or sinking!!
But now, thanks to these images, I understand how Africa is rising.  Like a kite. 

At any rate, these gave me a good laugh. 

Maybe I'm reading into things to much... but I think these are pretty funny. Its popular and profitable to talk about the rise of Africa and you've got to have visuals to go with such talk. The creative experts in the media never fail to amaze!

What do ya think? Are these just innocent visuals for good stories? Or weird representations for a continent already constantly misrepresented?


This essay was originally written for the Deseret News. 

UNICEF reported this week that more than 1 million children have been forced out of school by the violence of the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram in northern Nigeria and the surrounding area.

“The conflict has been a huge blow for education in the region, and violence has kept many children out of the classroom for more than a year, putting them at risk for dropping out of school altogether,” said Manuel Fontaine, the West and Central Africa regional director of UNICEF.

Across Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, more than 2,000 schools remain closed due to the conflict. Hundreds of schools have been attacked, looted or set on fire. Boko Haram fighters have killed about 600 teachers in Nigeria. “Schools have been targets of attack, so children are scared to go back to the classroom,” said Fontaine, “yet the longer they stay out of school, the greater the risks of being abused, abducted and recruited by armed groups.”

According to Voice of America, three child suicide bombers between the ages of 10 and 15 blew themselves up killing six others in northern Nigeria on Sunday night, underscoring fears of child recruitment into the deadly terrorist organization.

In March, Boko Haram renamed itself the “Islamic State’s West Africa Province,” or Iswap, according to the Independent. The name change has yet to stick in popular media, where it is still known as Boko Haram, a nickname for the group roughly meaning “Western education is a sin” in Hausa.

In April 2014, Boko Haram abducted 276 girls from their school dormitories in Chibok, northeast Nigeria. Fifty-seven managed to escape but 219 are still missing. Since then Boko Haram has been ranked as the world’s most deadly terrorist organization, killing more than 6,600 people this year.

Poverty and unemployment are the greatest development constraints in Nigeria, DevEx reported last week. In 2014 and 2015 the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) spent about $35 million on education in Nigeria. Last week USAID granted Creative Associates International $117 million to strengthen and enhance “the quality of early primary education and increase access to basic education for vulnerable populations” over the next five years.

Nigeria is not the only country experiencing a terrorist threat to education. According to a 2014 UNICEF report, Afghanistan, Colombia, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Syria all experienced more than 1,000 attacks on students, teachers or schools between 2009 and 2012. Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Libya, Mexico and Yemen all experienced between 500 and 999 such attacks during the same time period.

Last month, Frontline reported that the Islamic State group takes over schools and instructs students on how to use military weapons “to defend the faith.” Frontline’s footage shows an Islamic State teacher explaining the meaning of “jihad” and quizzing students on how to use a hand grenade.

Before the Islamic State group entered Afghanistan and Pakistan, the countries’ education systems were terrorized by the Taliban. Most famously the Taliban shot, but failed to kill, 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan for speaking out against the ban against girls attending school. She would later win the Nobel Peace Prize for the courageous stance.

Creative Associates International's website states that education is a vital part of rebuilding conflict areas. “Safe schools create an environment for learning and healing.” The website also said allowing schools to reopen gives communities a sense of returning to stability.


This was originally written for the Deseret News


Throughout the Paris climate talks, India maintained a firm position that raising its vast population out of poverty was its top priority, according to the New York Times. That meant India, the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, would pursue policies that help its poorest people even if that increases its contribution to global warming.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO)one major driver of climate change around the world, and especially in India, is the 3 billion people who cook on open fires with dirty fuels like wood, dung and coal. The dark smoke particles produced by these fuels absorb sunlight and contribute to global warming, but it's unclear if petroleum-based fuels would reduce global warming.

The biomass fuels Indians cook with also pose significant health risks to the women who typically spend long periods inside small smoky rooms preparing meals. Globally, WHO attributes 4.3 million premature deaths, mostly of children, to the household air pollution caused by biomass fuels. The inhalation of smoke and soot causes pneumonia, strokes, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.

Switching the 55 percent of India's population using these biofuels over to liquefied petroleum gas, the most accessible alternative in India, would have dramatic health benefits, but might not help reduce carbon emissions. The New York Times reported this week that switching Indians to gas might actually increase carbon emissions slightly.

Kirk Smith, a professor of global environmental health at the University of California, Berkeley, told the Times that it would be wrong “that the world’s poor should bear the burden of lowering carbon emissions when essentially minuscule increases would have such huge benefits.”

Smith argued that the health benefits of replacing biomass fuels with something safer outweighed the possible detriment to the climate especially when compared to the carbon emitted by the United States. “It is not the cooking of the poor that threatens the climate, it is you and me,” he said.

In 2010, Hillary Clinton said that providing poor women clean cook stoves “could be as transformative as bed nets or even vaccines,” according to The Washington Post.

Regardless of the good intentions of efforts to provide poor communities in developing countries withalternative fuel appliances, convincing people to change their traditional cooking methods has been a difficult task, and most Indians may continue using biomass fuels for some time.

“Three decades of efforts to promote both modern fuels and improved biomass stoves have seen only sporadic success,” says a World Bank report published last year.

Cultural preference has been one setback to implementing the new technology. The Stockholm Environment Institute surveyed Indian women who said they preferred to cook with a clay oven using a mix of firewood and dung because of the taste the fuels leave on the food.

Women who do adopt the new cook stoves tend to continue using biomass fuels in addition to the new technology. "The exclusive use of new stove technologies in homes has been rare,” according to researchers.

Another challenge is affordability of stoves and their fuel. Ample labor and time make gathering biomass fuels cheap in rural India. Liquefied petroleum gas fuels, on the other hand, are expensive and often unavailable in remote areas.

“This is where stoves have always struggled,” the director of the Mulago Foundation, Kevin Starr, told the Post. “The affordable ones are inadequate, and the good ones are unaffordable.”

All content created by Daniel Lombardi. Copyright 2017.