The Global Citizen
If I were lucky enough to be able to select a couple of questions for tomorrow night's Presidential Debate at Hofstra, I would choose some questions that have not been beaten to death on the campaign trail so far. Whether or not these important issues are touched upon in the debates, here are the ones that I would want to make sure that the next leader of the free world weighed in on before I went to the polls:
One glaring omission so far is climate change. There is no doubt that the Earth is heating up; the ice caps are melting and drought is rampant, resulting in higher food prices globally. This issue has been every presidential debate cycle since 1984, but so far this time around, there has only been silence. Although the Democratic Party Platform did touch upon this issue as a national security concern, Obama has not said much since the Democratic Convention. On the other hand, the Republican Party's skepticism concerning the seriousness of climate change (I mean come on, Romney joked about it during his convention speech) casts a lot of doubt on their willingness to do something about it. If Romney is going to change his mind (which seems to be an effective campaign strategy), he needs to give the message enough time to reach voters.
On September 20th, GlobalSolutions.org, hosted a panel discussion titled It Can Be Done: U.S. Personnel in International Peacekeeping. During this event, attendees were treated to the perspectives of three prominent U.S. peacekeepers: Lynn Holland, William Stuebner, and Deborah Owens.
First, Lynn Holland provided her perspective on the importance of U.S. involvement in peacekeeping missions, as well as her take on the role that women have in future peacekeeping missions. Next, William Stuebner provided a realistic perspective on future U.S. engagement in international peacekeeping, providing a number of conditions that must be met in order for the United States to engage in the process. Finally, Deborah Owens provided some of her perspectives that she gained through service in Somalia, Rwanda, and Bosnia.
The panel discussion was the last in a series of events held to promote a report we published last year in conjunction with the Partnership for Effective Peacekeeping, entitled “U.S. Engagement in International Peacekeeping: From Aspiration to Implementation.” Thanks to generous support from the Compton Foundation, we were able to hold events education policy makers, government officials, fellow NGO staff, and students on the benefits of U.S. engagement in peacekeeping efforts.
Men, boys, let us be bold. Let us speak the truth and stand up for the rights of girls and women to equality, dignity, and the rights we all share. –Desmond Tutu, Chair of The Elders
Today we celebrate the first ever International Day of the Girl. If you have read my past blog posts, you know how I feel about how essential girls are for the prosperity of the world’s nations. International studies have declared the biggest untapped resource lies in girls and their potential to contribute to society. Yet, girls and women all over the world are being held back.
Held back by injuries and death in childbirth—80% of cases that are preventable.
Held back by domestic abuse, violence, and rape.
A 14-year old Pakistani girl was shot by Taliban operatives yesterday while riding home on her school bus. The young girl, Malala Yousafzai, is an internationally recognized advocate for girls' education. The Taliban extremists said they targeted her specifically because, in their view, she is pro-Western symbol of "infidels and obscenity." They vowed to continue targeting her if she survives this attack.
Yousafzai was first brought to the public eye in 2009 when she wrote an anonymous diary for BBC's Urdu service about the atrocities of the Taliban, who controlled her city in Pakistan for two years through May 2009. Her brave work supporting girls' education rights, particularly against rising fundamentalism, made her a finalist for last year's International Children's Peace Prize. She has also promoted literacy and peace, earning her a peace prize from the Pakistani government.
It is absolutely heartbreaking that a young girl would be the victim of assassination attempts for no reason than her support of her rights to an education. The attack is a chilling reminder of the consequences, particularly for women, of allowing religious extremism to flourish in unstable societies.
Discussion about climate change is often thought to take place on the battlegrounds between the economist and the environmentalist. Whose fault is global warming? Whose responsibility is it to change the way things are? Who should bear the burden of living with the effects of climate change? Who has an obligation to act now?
The simple answer is all of us are responsible and all of us need to act. Interestingly enough, this answer is also the easy way out. The problem of collective action (moreover, the lack of cohesive collective action) has polluted the debate over climate change issues since the international community declared its importance as a major issue for the world's future.
In an article about the perspectives of understanding and analyzing climate change, Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Reporter on the right to food, made a point about the shortcomings of governments and their political processes in dealing with the issue of climate change. In addition to being "congested and gridlocked," he describes the climate change debate as one that lacks an "honest starting point." He sees the potential to find a solution stemming from viewpoint of climate change as a human rights issue.
Over the last two months, the team here at GlobalSolutions.org has been working to make climate change a bigger election issue this cycle, starting with the first presidential debate on October 3rd hosted by Jim Lehrer of PBS's NewsHour. This morning, GlobalSolutions.org, along with eight other organizations like the League of Conservation Voters and the Environmental Defense Fund, delivered over 160,000 of your petitions to the Newshour offices. Representatives for NewsHour accepted our petitions and guaranteed that our voices would be heard by Mr. Lehrer. According to one staff member, this petition is the largest they have received this election cycle.
Kimberly Rivera is a 30-year-old wife and a mother of four. She was a private in the US Army and served in Iraq in 2006. And this Thursday, after spending the past five years in Canada, she crossed the border into the United States separately from her family so that her children would not see their mother being arrested.
Some people call her a deserter. Some call her a war resister. And some call her a hero for standing up for what she believes is right according to her own conscience.
When she was 24 years old, Kimberly Rivera completed a tour of duty in Iraq. While she was there, she said she became "disillusioned with the mission," she began to seriously doubt the justification of the war, and she could no longer reconcile her participation in it, nor even continuing to be part of the US army.
While she was on leave in 2007, she was ordered to return to Iraq for a second tour. Upon hearing the news, she left for Canada with her family and applied for refugee status there. She later applied for permanent residency based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Canadian officials refused her case and she was ordered to leave the country by September 20th of this year. She is currently facing charges and could be sentenced for up to 2-5 years in prison.
Thousands of Muslims around the world have exploded in anger in response to an anti-Islam film titled The Innocence of Muslims, which, putting it lightly, depicts the prophet Muhammad and his followers in a negative light. On September 11, 2012, protesters in Cairo breached the outer perimeter of the US Embassy and proceeded to vandalize the property. Since then, Egyptian police have secured the Embassy and are guarding it against further protests.
On the same day as the Cairo protests, the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attacked during protests against the film. Tragically, Ambassador Christopher Stevens, former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, and information management officer Sean Smith were murdered in the line of duty. As of September 15th, Al-Qaeda has assumed a sort of removed responsibility for the killings, citing the attack as a response to a drone attack that killed Ayman al-Zawahiri’s lieutenant.
In the wake of the initial protests in Cairo and Benghazi, violence and protests surrounding the film have spread to Yemen, Kuwait, Sudan, Tripoli, Lebanon, Australia, Paris, and Jerusalem.
The violent protests against a U.S.-based film that started in Egypt last Tuesday continue to spread throughout the Arab world. The most notable of these occurred outside the U.S. embassy in Libya, where four American diplomats lost their lives. Anti-American demonstrations have also been reported in Yemen, Tunisia, Morocco, Sudan, and Gaza City.
Among the four Americans lost, was the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens. Ambassador Stevens was a career diplomat who was committed to working with the Libyan people. He was the American envoy to the revolutionaries during the uprising in Libya, and helped bring down Moammar Gadhafi. Ambassador Stevens embodied what it truly means to be a diplomat. He was passionate about building a relationship between the United States and Libya, and cared about the people, not just the politics. He helped free the Libyan people, and his death is a tragedy for American diplomacy.
Among those killed, was also U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith. Smith was assigned to Libya on a temporary mission. Our diplomats overseas are more than just our representatives or negotiators; they are our peacemakers, our community builders, our innovators, and our trailblazers. They commit their lives to serving the greater good.
By some estimates, Indiana has been the hardest hit state by the 2012 drought, but you would not know it by listening Republican Richard Mourdock or Democrat Joe Donnelly.
They are the front runners to become the next Senator from Indiana. Unfortunately, both have been stunningly quiet when it comes to the causes and meaning of the 2012 drought, perhaps the worst natural disaster to ever threaten the state.
Rain during the last few weeks have allowed Indiana to go from being in an exceptional and extreme drought zone to merely a severe one, but the damage has been done. It was miserable this summer in the Hoosier state. Way too hot and way too dry, served up with dire warnings of "fireweather." Nearly every major Indiana City broke or tied records for the hottest day on record and Terre Haute set at an all-time state record at 108°F. July was the hottest month on record in Indiana and June was the driest. It gets worse. The Union of Concerned Scientists have painted an even bleaker picture for Indiana over the next century if nothing is done to combat greenhouse emissions. The 2012 drought might just be the beginning.
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