About Talia Whyte

Posts by Talia Whyte:

Landmines Continue To Be A Global Crisis

Continuing on from last week’s post on international military spending, in that same UN exhibit I visited, there was also a photo gallery of young people from around the world who lost body parts because of undetected landmines.  An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people are killed or maimed by landmines every year, according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.  You can actually buy landmines for as cheap at $3, but it would cost up to $1,000 to safely unearth them by professional weapons handlers.  It costs thousands of dollars to provide lifelong care for a landmine survivor.

I remember going to Cambodia many years ago and meeting young people who lost limbs to landmines.  The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) estimates that there may be as many as four to six million mines and unexploded ordinances in Cambodia.  Most of the mines were installed during the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s and are still active.  These young people weren’t even alive when the Cambodian Genocide occurred.  As a matter of fact, Cambodia may have held its last Khmer Rouge trial just last week.

A few years ago, I used to host a fundraising effort called Night of a Thousand Dinners, where you invite friends and co-workers to feast on a dinner I prepared.  I would invite someone from the United Nations Association of USA to speak to the crowd about the landmine crisis globally.  I also had in attendance my colleague Sharon, who is a Mozambican freelance journalist and landmine survivor, to give her firsthand experience.

I am thinking of doing the dinner again either before Christmas or after the new year, in addition to a similar fundraiser to support victims of police brutality in the United States.  Whether stateside or on the other side of the world, there are way too many victims of violence in the world, and everyone’s effort to fight it counts.  More compassion is needed in the world.

Here is a video about landmines:


Time to Cut Global Military Spending

Last week my staff and I were in New York to prepare for my company’s annual UN Week events.  After a couple of meetings with vendors and as we were leaving the UN, we passed an exhibit on weapons of mass destruction.

Did you know that annual global military expenditures are $1.7 trillion?  In the United States alone military spending is projected to account for 54 percent of all federal discretionary spending, a total of $598.5 billion.  However, the US government only spends $65 and $66 billion on veterans’ benefits and Medicare/health care for all Americans, respectively, or just six percent of spending.


The Republicans are trying desperately to kill off Obamacare because they feel it costs too much.  No, I would say ongoing wars and conflicts cost too much.  We need to reorganize our priorities as a country.

“The world is over-armed and peace is underfunded.” Ban Ki-Moon

Typewriters Are Still Cool!

About a month ago, I had a meeting with my staff about our upcoming Teen ContentCamp.   We are planning on including a brief historical discussion of communication with our group of 25 tech-savvy teenagers.

“What if I showed them a typewriter,” my business partner Philip said sarcastically.  “I bet they wouldn’t even know what it was.”

So much has changed since I was a teen when I had to type out book reports on typewriters.  I still have my old typewriter somewhere in my basement.  But sometimes I feel like I want to go back to the analog world with the typewriter because looking at smartphones and computers can be mentally draining.

It seems like other people have the same idea and yearning for the days of old communication.  I hope I can convey to the kids that typewriters are still cool.

And a brief history of this magical machine.

What’s Cooking: Paella Valenciana

Yesterday, we went to a cookout at my friend Josefina’s home.  She and her husband cooked up the usual Fourth of July fare – hot dogs, hamburgers and barbecue ribs and chicken.  All the guests were asked to bring an international themed dish.  I was SO EXCITED about this!

Anytime I can get to make my Paella Valenciana is always a good time for me and those eating it!!!

I have traveled to Spain many times, including a time where I tried to follow the same route my favorite writer, Richard Wright, did in Pagan Spain.  The country, its people, and culture are both so beautiful and mysterious.  I was in Valencia once and took a cooking class at a restaurant on how to cook proper paella.  This dish has different variations depending on what region you are in Spain; however, paella was created in Valencia.

There are also different types of paella – seafood, chicken, vegetarian, chorizo (which is pretty controversial with Valencians), duck and snails.  I have even eaten a version with rabbit!  So for the cookout yesterday.  I made both a seafood paella and a vegetarian paella, which I have to say went over very well with party attendees.

The picture above is the seafood version, which includes shrimp, scallops, squid, and calamari.

Vegetarian Paella Recipe – serves 4 people

Use whatever vegetables you have, but I use:

1 green and 1 red bell pepper
5 carrots
1 eggplant
3 portabello mushrooms
1/2 cup of frozen peas
1 onion
2 garlic cloves or scapes
2 cups of saffron or Bomba rice
3 cups of vegetable broth
4 diced tomatoes
1 tsp of smoked paprika
A pinch of salt and pepper (you can even add crushed red peppers if you like it a little spicy.)

Chop up the vegetables and saute it with onion and garlic in a wide cooking pan for five minutes. Add the tomatoes and saute for two minutes. Add paprika, salt, and pepper and stir for two minutes, making sure it doesn’t burn. Add broth and bring to a boil. Then add rice and peas and stir everything to make sure it is evenly layered. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer with a cover for about 20 minutes. Remove pan and let sit for five minutes.

Seafood Paella Recipe

Do everything above. You can keep as many vegetables from above as you want, but traditional Valencian paella generally has only peas and maybe red peppers. But that is up to you. I like using the frozen seafood mix from Trader Joe’s, which I would simply add after bringing the broth to boil.

Enjoy and please let me know if you try the recipes!