The Global Citizen: Capitol Hill
If you'd only begun paying attention to American politics in the last few weeks, all you'd know would be the coverage of Washington's recently unveiled "scandals," namely the IRS's investigation of Tea Party groups, the Department of Justice's probe into the Associated Press, and the older but ever-present "Benghazi-gate." The amount of coverage given to these pseudo-stories has ramped up recently, and the attention they're drawing is challenging even that of the Kardashians. Unable to pass up on an opportunity like this, E! will surely soon be unveiling Keeping Up with the Congressmen, and its soon-to-follow spin-off, Darrell and Lindsey Take the Hill...Downhill.
Why all this coverage? A report from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that editors and journalists sometimes pursue partisan agendas to further their own motives, and when news organizations, like Fox or MSNBC, have a following that's mostly ideologically homogenous, it's more likely that they'll pursue this course of action. Investigating and acquiring a worthwhile story incurs time, effort, and financial costs on the publication, and oftentimes the convenience of passing off an easy but comparatively-hollow story outweighs the value of publishing a better, factually accurate one.
On April 23rd, Farea Al-Muslimi, an activist and freelance journalist from Yemen who has spent several years as a teenager studying and living in the United States as a foreign exchange student, appealed to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the United States drone strike on his town, Wessab. He explained to the Committee that the drone strike on his village "terrified thousands of simple, poor farmers" and "tore [his] heart," much like the horrific bombings in Boston, MA last week.
The verdict has finally come out for two teenage males accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio. Ma'lik Richmond and Trent Mays were found guilty and must serve up to one and two years in the state juvenile system respectively.
From Steubenville, Ohio to New Delhi, India, we seem to be living in a world where gender based violence is a common human abuse. "Women worldwide ages 15 through 44 are more likely to die or be maimed because of male violence than because of cancer, malaria, war and traffic accidents combined," writes Nicholas Kristof, a columnist for the New York Times. He continues by stating that "Americans watched the events after the Delhi gang rape with a whiff of condescension at the barbarity there, but domestic violence and sex trafficking remain a vast problem across the United States."
Today is my favorite holiday. I learned about it in Italian class. In Italian, the holiday is called, La Festa della Donna, in English we call it International Women's Day. La Festa della Donna is my favorite holiday because in Italy, women are given mimosa flowers, a mimosa cake and are told to take the day off. It's like the Italian Valentine's Day for every woman.
In honor of La Festa della Donna I am taking the United Nation's International Women's Day theme of A Promise is a Promise: Time for Action to End Violence against Wome.
Project Mimosa is my own personal motto to create awareness of women's issues. This is the year for ending violence against women. The United States Congress recently passed the Violence Against Women Act and with the same commitment to ending violence against women, the US Senate should ratify the Convention of the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
Here are my reasons why:
Did you know that international laws dictate the rules of the game when it comes to selling bananas and iPods, but not grenade launchers and AK-47s?
It’s crazy but true. Fortunately, a solution is at hand. Negotiators at the United Nations will soon wrap up a global Arms Trade Treaty that will establish much-needed rules to prevent selling arms to human rights violators.
Every year, more than 500,000 people around the world are killed as a result of armed violence. Firearms are used in armed conflicts and to carry out human rights violations, including genocide, gang rape, and the practice of forcing children into combat as underaged soldiers.
There are about 250,000 child soldiers.
Roughly 60 percent of documented human rights violations involve the use of small arms (such as rifles and machine guns) and light weapons (such as grenade launchers and shoulder-fired missiles). In fact, more human rights abuses are committed with small arms than with any other category of weapon.
Sequestration. It's a word that sparks fear in almost all Americans, at least those who watch the news. This Friday, March 1st, automatic spending cuts go into effect and this will have a devastating impact on global programs Important to the United States and the world.
Secretary of State John Kerry recently released a statement detailing the cuts to the Department of State and USAID. Over 300 million would be cut in foreign military financing, which would reduce our military assistance to Israel, Jordan, and Egypt.
Personally, it's the 200 million in global humanitarian aid I am worried about cutting. That money goes to helping people in natural disasters. 400 million would be cut in global health programs addressing various issues such as child mortality, polio eradication, maternal health, water purification, and HIV/AIDS programs. These health programs are vital to millions of the most vulnerable people around the world.
Last week a New York Times article announced that during the State of the Union, Obama was going to call for drastically reducing our nuclear weapons stock pile.
Yet the state of the union came and nothing was said on the matter.
Lately, tensions with Russia have begun to fray around the edges. Vladimir Putin refuses to renew the Dunn-Lugar Treaty, the Russian Parliament banned Russian adoptions to American parents and the Russians have expressed their great displeasure of the United States’ involvement in their energy sector. Perhaps this is all why Obama chose instead not to discuss the fragile issue during one of his most public speeches.
North Korea's latest nuclear test highlights the limits of what the United Nations and its member states can do when an outlaw nation is determined to run roughshod over existing international laws. Policymakers and diplomats in Washington, DC and at the UN are scrambling for a way to respond to the young dictator Kim Jong Un's latest delinquency. The bottom line is that North Korea's latest nuclear blast shows just how reliant we are on an effective global network of institutions and laws; and how relatively weak that network still is. Kim Jong Un's nuclear tantrum should be seen not only as a threat, but as a clear message that we need a cooperative global system with the capacity and means to ensure a safer future for us all. And we are not there yet.
The topic of drone strikes has been popular conversation topic and has a large impact on national security. "The drone war is a shadow war," states Rosa Brooks, a Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation and Georgetown University law professor, who also served as a Counselor to Under Secretary of Defence for Policy Michele Flournoy at the U.S. Department of Defense. In her article, "Death by Loophole," Brooks continues by stating that the CIA and the White House has had little to no acknowledgement about their involvement in 'targeted killings' around the world. Today, we do not know exactly how many drone strikes have been launched or exactly where these 'targeted killings' have taken place.
Under what circumstances can the United States' government use droids?
The uses of drones have been very important to the United States military. They are able to "provide 24-hour patrols over hotspots, gather intelligence by pulling in millions of terabytes of data and hours of video feeds and they can also launch precisely targeted airstrikes without putting a U.S. pilot at risk." Overall, drones have a wide variety of uses, both good and bad.
As the atrocities of Syria continue, the Obama Administration seems to have little to no interest in intervening with the current situation in Syria. More than 60,000 people have been killed and over 650,000 refugees have fled across Syrian borders within the last 22 months---and the numbers continue to grow every day.
United States---as the self-proclaimed leader of the free world---needs to take a more active role in protecting the lives and human rights of Syrian citizens by helping shape a governmental system that supports the needs, interests, and fundamental rights of the Syrian people. This is a difficult role for the United States, but one that we must take the lead on.
Newly sworn-in Secretary of State John Kerry commented that if the United States were to intervene, it would "have to make things better and not worse." United States intervention, with or without military action, could alter Syria's future in many drastic ways. But one thing is for sure, Syrian men, women, and children are suffering and we need to take action to support those who are in need.
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