Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Where I Landed Wednesday

Was last year:

"Land mine casualties jump 75 percent as funding for removal declines" by Rick Gladstone New York Times  November 23, 2016

Despite a global treaty that bans land mines, casualties from those weapons and other unexploded munitions lurking in current and past war zones rose sharply last year to the highest point in a decade, a monitoring group said Tuesday in its annual report.

The group, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, also said that financial contributions toward efforts to remove land mines plunged by nearly a quarter last year. It was the third consecutive annual decline in funding, imperiling a pledge by treaty members to complete mine clearance by 2025.

War casualties up, money for peace and preservation down.

In another setback to the treaty’s goals, the number of countries and areas where land mines are known to exist rose to 64 last year, from 61 in 2014, the report said. It attributed the increase to the use of anti-personnel mines in Nigeria, including improvised mines, and to new data on mines that had already been present in Palau and Mozambique.

Looks like a failed treaty to me, sorry. Not trying too hurt anyone's feelings -- although that's better than stepping wrong and getting a leg blown off.

The casualty increase was primarily from the armed conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen, according to the report, which said better availability of data on victims was also a factor.

(Blog editor shaking head side to side, very perturbed. That would be all the places to which Obama brought wars!!!! In Iraq and Afghanistan it was initial withdrawal followed by escalation at the end -- saving Trump those chores and freeing him to escalate in other places)

It said that 6,461 people were known to have been wounded or killed by land mines and other explosive remnants of war in 2015. That was a 75 percent increase from 2014 and the highest reported casualty total since 2006’s figure of 6,573.

“The decade-high number of new casualties caused by land mines and unexploded ordnance, and the continued suffering of civilians, more than a third of whom were children, proves again that these indiscriminate weapons should never be used by anyone,” said Loren Persi Vicentic, one of the editors of the annual report, Landmine Monitor 2016.

The land mine treaty, which took effect in 1999, bans the use of mines and other victim-activated explosive devices placed on or under the ground. They are designed to detonate when a person unwittingly walks over them or is nearby, and they can remain lethal even after lying dormant for many years.

Land mines have long posed a safety threat to civilians, particularly children, who step on the explosives or find them, sometimes well after a conflict has ended.

Landmine Monitor 2016 was released in advance of the 15th meeting of countries that have signed the treaty. The meeting is to begin Monday in Santiago, Chile. At least 162 countries have signed the treaty. Thirty-five countries remain outside the treaty, including China, Russia, and the United States. Most of them do not use or produce land mines.

Gee, that is rather bazaar, isn't it?

The United States has stated that it will observe the “key requirements” of the treaty with the exception of the Korean Peninsula, where the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South remains one of the most heavily mined areas in the world.

That planned aggression and war is looking worse every single day.

The Obama administration has said the Defense Department is working on land mine alternatives in the Demilitarized Zone, which presumably would help create the conditions for the United States to formally join the land mine treaty.

The United States remains the world’s leading funder of humanitarian demining work, providing about $154 million last year to 40 countries and more than $2.6 billion in at least 95 countries since 1993, according to the State Department’s latest annual report on US efforts to eradicate unexploded remnants of war.

You often read what I'm against here; well, there is something I'm for. I'm for spending the money on an effort like that because a) the United States government actually owes it to those people for sowing so much of them, and b) it's moving the world in the right direction for a change. Thus the money dries up and the war casualties rise.

The psychopaths kicking around the planet are like speeding drivers who gun it up to 80, throttle back to 70, gun it up to 100, throttle back to 90, gun it up again.... doesn't it seem like that is how they push the war agenda forward. When they throttle back we all heave a sigh of relief while they gear up for the next push. 

Those efforts include disarming and destroying old US bombs from the Vietnam War era that still pose deadly hazards in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

Stan Brown, director of the State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, which helps oversee the US-funded demining work, told reporters last week that the agency was sending two observers to the Santiago meeting of land-mine treaty members.

More than 50 countries manufactured land mines before the treaty, a number that has since dwindled to 11. The Landmine Monitor report said the most active producers were India, Myanmar, Pakistan, and South Korea.



"Obama acknowledges scars of America’s secret war in Laos" by Mark Landler New York Times   September 06, 2016

VIENTIANE, Laos — President Obama, declaring that it was time to pull America’s secret war in Laos from the shadows, told an audience here Tuesday that he stood with them in “acknowledging the suffering and sacrifices on all sides of that conflict.”


Where has he been all these years?

Obama, the first sitting US president to visit Laos, recalled that the United States had dropped more than 2 million tons of bombs on this country during the height of the Vietnam War, more than it dropped on Germany and Japan during World War II.

(Blog editor's shoulders slump and he frowns as he ponders what to say, if anything. Sighs)

That made Laos, per capita, the most heavily bombed country in human history.

(Is it ever to late to apologize even if one had no way of influencing events at that time? I'm so sorry)

“Villages and entire valleys were obliterated,” Obama said. “Countless civilians were killed. That conflict was another reminder that, whatever the cause, whatever our intentions, war inflicts a wrenching toll, especially on innocent men, women and children.”

Does he even listen to himself?

That's not good enough when the impetus for intervention -- in this case, the fictitious Gulf of Tonkin event -- are big, fat, whopping lies. It's mass murder by the millions then.

Problem is, not just a one off. In Iraq we got babies thrown out of incubators and nonexistent WMD. The most recent case would be the Syrian chemical weapons garbage. 

I mean, if he went over there and really came clean that would be one thing, but these half-measure things are old. Not just with him, with all the war criminal occupants before and after.

At the time, the United States did not publicly acknowledge its combat operations in Laos, a CIA-directed expansion of the war against the Communist North Vietnamese. Even now, the president said, many Americans were unaware of their country’s deadly legacy here. 

How many secret wars that you don't know about are they running now?

(They kind of admitted one today: Tuesday's offensive in the east opens another front against IS, this time pitting the U.S.- and Western-backed rebels against Syrian government forces and allied fighters.)

But that was the past.

Still, the president acknowledged that the commercial centerpiece of the pivot — the 12-nation trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership — was delayed in Congress, a victim of the growing political backlash against free trade in the United States.

“Failure to move ahead with TPP wouldn’t just have economic consequences,” Obama said. “It would call into question America’s leadership in this vital region. And so, as difficult as the politics are back home, I will continue to push hard on Congress to approve TPP before I leave office. It’s important for this entire region.”

Obama, who came to Laos from a Group of 20 meeting in Hangzhou, China, repeated past assurances that the pivot was not intended to check China’s growing influence in the region. But he made clear that the United States would support China’s Southeast Asian neighbors in resisting Beijing’s efforts to colonize the South China Sea.

“Every nation matters,” he said. “Bigger nations should not dictate to smaller ones, and all nations should play by the same rules.”


He doesn't hear himself, does he? He just reads the words on the teleprompter, beautifully I might add, but that's it. 

Obama also reiterated the determination of the United States to “fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, and we will support the right of all countries to do the same.”

While in Laos, Obama met with South Korean President Park Geun-hye in a display of unity a day after North Korea fired three ballistic missiles. 

Not even Obama could save her.

Obama vowed to work with the United Nations to tighten sanctions against Pyongyang but said the door wasn’t closed to a more functional relationship.

The 10-nation ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The summit will be followed by a series of other meetings on Wednesday and a summit Thursday between leaders from ASEAN and other countries, including the United States, China, Russia, India, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

According to a draft of a final statement ASEAN is scheduled to release on Thursday, the region’s leaders will express strong concern about Beijing’s construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea, which Southeast Asian countries fear could destabilize the region.

China sparked widespread alarm when it converted seven reefs in the Spratly Islands into islands that the United States says could be transformed into military bases to reinforce Beijing’s territorial claims and intimidate rival claimant countries.

An international arbitration panel recently ruled that China’s expansive claims in the sea are illegal. Beijing has rejected the ruling as a sham.

And now the Filipinos are cozying up to them as well.


Was his last trip to the region, thank Buddha.