Politics

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

Time to Drain the Democratic Swamp

Last week CNN hosted a town hall with Sen. Bernie Sanders. This was not only another example of why I need to cut the cord, but also what is wrong with the Democratic party.

This town hall was presented as if Sanders was the defacto leader of the party. Apparently, a lot of Americans feel this way. According to a Public Policy Polling survey, about a quarter of survey participants said they would vote for Sanders if he ran again for president as a Democrat in 2020. But catch this; 31 percent of participants would like to see Vice President Joe Biden run again for that office and 16 percent wanted to vote for Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

While I have a lot of respect for Sanders, Biden, and Warren, two old white men who have already run for office along a slightly younger white woman are not the future of the party. If the Democrats claim that they are the party of diversity in a multicultural America, then they need to start looking like it.

It is time for them to start grooming younger, more diverse people with new ideas as the faces of the party. Every once in a while you see Corey Booker, Kamala Harris, and the Castro brothers, but they are never presented by the DNC as official voices for the party. Considering that the first black president is about to leave, it has become starkly evident that the DNC hasn’t done a good job of presenting who could be the next president of color or at least have a higher public profile.

Say what you will about the Republicans, at least they have visible faces of color on their side who are publicly seen as rising stars within the party like Nikki Haley, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Tim Scott, Bobby Jindal (albeit a religious nut), and, heck, even Condi Rice (albeit a war criminal). At least the GOP had the most diverse group of candidates running for president during the last presidential cycle, unlike the Democrats that paraded out even more old white people.

Also, this lack of diversity continues to feed into this belief that the Democrats keep blacks on a “plantation,” by just taking our votes and not actually doing anything to improve the lives of black people and not putting enough of us in positions of power within the party. Well, it is a fact that Democrats take people of color for granted.

Some would argue that Barack Obama was elected president as a Democrat. However, if you recall from eight years ago, Hillary Clinton was the establishment DNC choice. Obama wasn’t supposed to win; he wasn’t even expected to survive the primaries. Obama didn’t win because of any help from DNC; he created his upstart operation and strategies with a staff of young idealists with fresh, new ideas. The DNC wanted to stay with the status quo and did everything to take him down, including calling him “house boy.” The DNC only came on board after it became apparent that Obama was going to easily beat John McCain.

And I am not just saying all this for diversity sake; there is seriously a significant problem within the Democratic party. They should have easily won the 2000 election. Al Gore’s campaign, lead by the ever corrupt Donna Brazile, should have won against dimwitted Dubya. So technically 1996 was the last time the Democrats won the White House with the “other” black president Bill Clinton who gave us the crime bill; which is something that has drastically held back black people for over 20 years.

If the Democrats want to survive in the future, it’s high time for them to drain the swamp.

More Compassion and Joy Is Needed Today

dalai-lama-desmond-tutuThe holiday season should be a time to think about our common humanity.  This has been a really ugly year, and now is a good time to step back and to maintain our courage under fire.

My favorite book from this year was The Book of Joy:  Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu.  These two men have faced harsh adversity in their lives and it was great to read their perspectives and advice on dealing with life’s struggles.

Desmond Tutu has been a role model to me for many years and I have had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of times.  He is a true fighter and definitely someone that everyone should listen to when he speaks.