Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Critical issues relating to Russia and global security

Critical Aspects of Russia and it's Global Implications:

Russia has a continuing and ongoing relationship with China, Cuba, and other communist nations that began with friendly relations due to the cold war.  The end of the cold war brought about several changes to Russian foreign policy that clearly express  a lingering ideology (that has been recently been verbalized by Russian President Vladimir Putin and has been labeled the Putin Doctrine) in which the following main point has been expressed:  It is the desire of Russia, the people of Russia, and President Putin, to rebuild Russia as a major global power, to increase its global influence, and to protect its citizens abroad.  This hegemony is being expressed currently through the use  of power I  Syria  (an effort to destroy the Islamic State (ISIS / ISIL )), across the globe through its nuclear threat/ deterrent power, and through the use of clandestine services / intelligence gathering tools. Although the US and Russia have committed to reducing nuclear arsenals from 10,000 warheads (1980's) to 1,500 in 2010 and hope to decrease numbers even further (through START, SORT, and New START), nuclear proliferation is still a primary concern throughout the globe.   Further, after the 2015 bombings in Paris, and the downing of a Russian warplane, Russia's primary objective has changed itself into the complete destruction of ISIS/ISIL. This fact is pushing countries who don't usually get along (US, China, Iran, India, Saudi Arabia,  etc.) to work together to defeat ISIS/IS IL using collaboration,  shared resources, and other essential tools to eliminate the threat of ISIS/IS IL across the  globe.

International tools being used to address Russia, and Russian global objectives:

To address the aforementioned issues, the international community has formed a variety of tools that help keep our world safe and peaceful. To combat nuclear proliferation issues, the international community has established the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which is designed to regulate and inspect atomic energy in all forms (peaceful,  power, and weapon grade). Additionally,  the United Nations (UN), the United Nations Security Council  (UNSC), and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are effective forums for the discussion of treaties such as SORT, START, and New START.  The UNSC  is also a perfect forum for collaboration with other nations, and to create a unified force that is designed to combat ISIS/ISIL.

Additional steps the International community can take to deal with Russia:

Russia is a complex issue that crosses boundaries that have not yet been approached in history.  While the international community and Russia Agee that ISIS/ISIL must be destroyed, the methods in which the community comes together to rid the planet of ISIS/ISIL is contentious to say the least. Further, Russia's nuclear arsenal is cause for concern due to potential theft, sale, or other forms of proliferation of and/ or the frightening potential for nuclear materials to fall into the hands of terrorists. Therefore, it is the recommendation of this humble reporter that the international community should continue to reach for diplomatic solutions through the use of the United Nations, specifically the UNSC, to continue maintaining efforts in nuclear non proliferation teaties, and continue to work with any and all available resources to eliminate ISIS/ISIL, and to promote world peace, as well as to strive for a safer global community. Further, it is my belief that through a global coalition of cooperating nation states, that agreement can be achieved to create a global community against terror. Working with Russia, not against it, is the best option of or a safe, sustainable future.


In class notes, Prf. Keith Hansen ; Sierra Nevada College
Russia and the Near and Abroa, Shevel Oxana
US National Security, Sarkesion pp. 81 & 85
The Putin Doctrine, Jackson

Friday, August 26, 2016

Land Redistribution as written for Prof. Mary Lewellen, Sierra Nevada College

Land Redistribution: 
Not a Black and White Issue

By: J. Dean Grimes
Created for Sierra Nevada College: INTL415, Summer 2015


1. History of Land Redistribution
2. Not a Black and White Issue
3. Problems
4. Suggested solutions
5. Conclusion
6. References

The History of Land Redistribution

Land redistribution “officially began in 1980 with the signing of the Lancaster House Agreement, an effort to more equitably distribute land between black subsistence farmers and white Zimbabweans of European ancestry, who had traditionally enjoyed superior political and economic status(Wikipedia, 1).” In 2008, Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, lost a crucial vote in Parliament that would have granted him lifetime power, and, in an effort to regain strength within Parliament and among the people, Mugabe began to utilize land redistribution as a means to regain support from his constituents. This action resulted in the violent reclamation of property (particularly farmland), and the redistribution of wealth among black Zimbabweans.  In principle, the idea of land redistribution seems fair and just, but, there are several unintended adverse issues resulting from this concept, idea, and law.  For example, the white farmers in Zimbabwe employed hundreds of workers.  These farmers knew how to farm exceptionally well whereas the new land owners have little to no knowledge in this field, and the violent reclamation of these farms has become a form of reverse racism that has left hundreds of white third generation farmers homeless and without a country.  “I am a Zimbabwean.  I was born here, I bought this farm, I paid off the loan, and now the government wants to come in and take it (Mugabe and the White African).”  The aforementioned statement clearly sums up the issues at stake and at hand.  One cannot simply “take” land that was purchased legally, managed exceptionally well, and provided homes and income for thousands of workers without consequence.  Throughout this paper, I will identify and dissect the issues, provide potential solutions to the issues, and discuss the political ramifications for the United States should they chose to become involved in the process of recovery.

There is, however, the other side of the argument which stems from the 1890’s and the British South Africa Company (BSAC) takeover, in which, “Over 3000 white soldiers who assisted in the BSAC takeover of the country were given land grants of 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) or more, and black people living on the land became tenants. Later, Land Apportionment and Tenure Acts reserved extensive low-rainfall areas for black-only tribal-trust lands and high rainfall areas for white ownership, which gave rise to cases of black people being excluded from their own land. White settlers were attracted to Rhodesia by the availability of tracts of prime farmland that could be purchased from the state at low cost (Wikipedia 3).”  Which then begs the question, “Who stole land from whom, and is land something you can really purchase anyway?  To answer these questions, we need to dive a little deeper into the history of Robert Mugabe, and the motivation for land reclamation/ redistribution, his motives for using this to remove third generation Zimbabweans from land that they worked hard to cultivate, and what’s happening to these newly displaced people, as well as the economic impact land redistribution has made.

Robert Mugabe came into power as the current President of Zimbabwe on December 22, 1987, and “rose to prominence in the 1960s as the leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) during the conflict against the conservative white-minority government of Rhodesia. Mugabe was a political prisoner in Rhodesia for more than 10 years between 1964 and 1974. Upon release Mugabe, along with Edgar Tekere, immediately left Rhodesia with the assistance of Rekayi Tangwena in 1975 to kick-start the fight during the Rhodesian Bush War from bases in Mozambique. At the end of the war in 1979, Mugabe emerged as a hero in the minds of many Africans. He won the general elections of 1980 after calling for reconciliation between the former belligerents, including white Zimbabweans and rival political parties, and thereby became Prime Minister on Zimbabwe's independence in April 1980.

Soon after independence Mugabe set about creating a ZANU–PF-run one-party state, establishing a North Korean-trained security force, the Fifth Brigade, in August 1981 to deal with internal dissidents.[2] Mugabe attacked former allies ZAPU in which the Fifth Brigade crushed an armed rebellion by fighters loyal to his rival Joshua Nkomo, leader of the minority Ndebele tribe, in the province of Matabeleland. Between 1982 and 1985 at least 20,000 people died in ethnic cleansing and were buried in mass graves.[3][4] Mugabe consolidated his power in December 1987, when he was declared executive president by parliament, combining the roles of head of state, head of government, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, with powers to dissolve parliament and declare martial law.

In 2008 Mugabe suffered a narrow defeat in the first round of a presidential election but he subsequently won the run-off election in a landslide after his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew; Mugabe then entered a power-sharing deal with Tsvangirai as well as Arthur Mutambara of the MDC-T and MDC-M opposition party. In 2013, the Election Commission said Mugabe won his seventh term as President, defeating Tsvangirai with 61 percent of the vote in a disputed election in which there were numerous accounts of electoral fraud.[5][6] Mugabe was elected as the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) on 30 January 2015.[7] He had previously led the AU's predecessor, the Organization of African Unity in 1997–98 (Wikipedia 2).”

During the 2008 elections, Mugabe determined that the best way to regain control of Parliament and the popular vote was to place a heavy emphasis on land redistribution and his Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) roots combined with his historic leadership as a rebel against white minority rule.  Seizing an opportunity to regain power and influence, Mugabe began reclaiming land owned by white farmers through their forced and violent removal.  Since 2008 hundreds of farmers have lost their land, thousands of workers have been displaced, the country has lost billions of dollars in exports as a result, and what used to be Africa’s great bread basket is now a wasteland with dilapidated infrastructure and farms that have nothing growing on them but weeds.

Not a Black and White Issue
  Aside from the fact that land redistribution is an overwhelmingly complex issue and it is not, forgive the pun, as black and white or as clear as it could be, the issue really comes down to land ownership. To solve this issue, this author has determined that land belongs to the people that live there.  History has little or nothing to do with anything in this day and age, in this century, in this new millennia, in this time.  Rather, land ownership in today’s world comes down to you, me, us, I, and them.  Meaning, can I get along with you, can we get along with them, can they get along with us, and can we all work together to accomplish one goal?  And what purpose does fighting over land provide?  I liken it to this:  My grandfather fought very hard, suffered many great losses, endured many hardships, and suffered at length as a farmer until he was around 45 years old, and he sold his first batch of wine grapes to a guy named Robert Mondavi in 1975.  His efforts have since transferred to me, and now I am in control of the land that he worked hard to pass on to myself and other members of my family.  Does the government have a right to take this land back?  Yes.  Will they?  Who knows, but if they attempted this, what grounds would they have to remove me from it? 

As a grape grower, I am contributing to society in several ways:  One, I pay taxes based on my revenues thereby contributing to the economy.  Two, I purchase equipment and supplies from local and national vendors, and three, I employ thousands of workers and I provide homes for migrant workers and others who are in need.  Is this not a great contribution to society?  Does what I do not affect the rest of the nation, our economy, and benefit the exportation of California wine to other nations thereby boosting US export power?  If the answer to these questions is yes, then it seems, that land redistribution may become quite a problem should they remove me from my land and replace me with someone who has no knowledge of grape growing, no understanding of the economics of the industry, or has no understanding of how to employ people, contribute to local, statewide, and national prosperity. 

Why?  Because my forced removal leaves a deficit throughout the community.  When there is a deficit in community, a void and a vacuum forms wherein anything can happen.  Anger, resentment, fear, and distrust would be an additional result of these actions.  And, this pathway leads to a darkness that Zimbabwe and other nations/ states who try to employ this method of reclamation are just beginning to feel.

The reality is that no one can really own land in the first place.  Land was originally free.  It was a gift that came with life just as food, air, and water once were.  But, somewhere in history land became something you could purchase, and the resulting land ownership laws, rules, clauses, and debates/ wars about who owns what have ensued.  But, there is no real right and wrong here, because ultimately, land belongs to everyone as much as air and water.

Solution 1:  Forcibly remove Mugabe and others who seek to forcibly remove legal land owners.  But then, who has the power to do this?  The African Union (AU)?  The United Nations (UN)?  The International Criminal Court (ICC)? The United States?  A coalition of nations?  Invasion of the country to re-establish true democratic law rather than democratic socialism?  Ultimately, there is no clear cut answer to this question as none of the aforementioned have the actual power to remove Mugabe and others like him.  However, perhaps there is a loophole that I am unaware of.  Perhaps Mugabe could be tried for crimes against humanity in the ICC, perhaps the US could selectively eliminate Mugabe.  Yet, Mugabe is a hero to many.  Would this not cause further resentment?  Hatred even?  Ultimately, this solution cannot be worked out without the thoughts and contribution of many great minds.

Solution 2: Honor and reimbursement.  This solution suggests that land selected for redistribution be purchased at fair market value by the Zimbabwe government, and then be distributed to selected Zimbabweans, who, for a period of time, would learn how to farm the land by the farmers who are leaving the land during a period of transition.  This transition period would enable old land owners to humanely leave their farms while ensuring little to no economic loss, little to no loss of employment, and little to no overall societal impact.  Honoring land agreements proves truth can prevail.  The truth in Zimbabwe’s case is that land was taken from Africans, distributed to the British, and now, the African’s want what was originally rightfully theirs.  However, this is the modern world, not the 1800’s, and the question remains, “Is a 3rd generation farmer who bought his or her own land legally, responsible for what someone did one hundred years ago?”  There is no answer to this question, therefore this solution is moot, and becomes void upon the onset.

Solution 3:  Start over.  Perhaps, and this is just an idea, but, perhaps the real solution is this: Give new unowned land in Zimbabwe to those who are in need.  Perhaps Mugabe could start building homes instead of taking them.  Perhaps the government can train new farmers by investing in education.  Perhaps allowing legal land owners to maintain their land might encourage growth in the Zimbabwe economy.  Perhaps focusing on growth rather than destruction would serve this country, and others like it, exceptionally well.  Perhaps focusing on building up rather than taking down might be a worthwhile investment.  Perhaps Mugabe wouldn’t have to worry about losing his power if he could peacefully transition it to someone who has the interests of all Zimbabweans at heart.  Perhaps Mugabe could encourage people to change the social consciousness, and move toward a social mindset that encourages the equality of all people, and focus less, if at all, on separatism, racism, and social classism. Perhaps Mugabe could move toward an us instead of a them.  Perhaps Mugabe could set a precedent of equality and concentrate on the ideals of Ubuntu, the connectedness of humankind, and perhaps he could become a leader that sets the example of unity and equality that other nation states would follow.  Perhaps, Mugabe could accept the world as it is instead of focusing on the problems and social injustices of the past, and never forget, rather embrace the history of his country and create a new policy of tolerance, love, peace, and preach the connectedness of humanity to his people.  And, perhaps Mugabe could teach leaders of other nation states to do the same.

Land redistribution is a real problem.  Its overarching effects reach into the pockets of thousands who no longer have jobs, destroys the economic prosperity of nations that enforce it, and provides no real solutions for the greater issue at hand which is how to unify a nation state’s people.  Legal solutions cannot have a great effect on the equal distribution of land because, in reality, the person legally living on the land is the true and rightful owner.  Honoring land ownership, but continuing to redistribute land through the legal repurchasing of land may be an answer, but it is a temporary solution at best because it merely covers a wound that is deeply engrained in the social consciousness of the state’s people which is essentially the problem of racism and classism.  The real solution to land redistribution is solving racism, classism, and changing the social consciousness which basically entails the promotion of tolerance and the understanding that we are all one unified people under one unified nation/ state.  Eliminating the idea that there are differences among us is the key.  Regrouping, pressing the re-start button, investing in infrastructure, building new homes and putting people to work by building them, training new farmers, giving unused land to people that are homeless, providing resources for people to get healthy when they are sick, giving back to the community that gives to you, and beginning a new chapter in your nations history is the best way to solve this problem.  There are no easy answers, but there is a way.  It is a march toward forgiveness, toward acceptance, toward loving each other, toward understanding each other, toward growing with and for each other.  The solution therefore is not us versus them, or me versus you, but conveying a message of equality that is so powerful, that it changes the social consciousness of a nation, and the nations that follow your example.

Movie 1:
Wikipedia 1:
Wikipedia 2:
Wikipedia 3:

Tao for King as written for Prof. Robert King, Sierra Nevada College

"Truth is what stands the test of experience." - Einstein

At first glance… Everything appears to be real.  But is it?  For example – What if the color that I see as “red” is actually “blue” to you?  When you look in the mirror, do you ask yourself, “Why am I ‘me’?”  Have you ever wondered why you were well off, or could seem to get everything you need, but looked at a friend and see that they can’t quite achieve their goals, dreams or aspirations?  Why is it so much harder for a person to come from nothing and achieve greatness?  Why is “why” even a question?  What makes us more intelligent than other life forms on this planet?  Why do we seem to seek out conquest, war, and look to overthrow?  Why do we impale ourselves with the harsh life-shattering stick of the world as we know it?  Why are “we” (humankind) continuing down a path toward inevitable destruction? Is it because “we” seek to destroy?  Is it because we can think of nothing else to do with our time?  Is it because we cannot control some innate presupposed condition that lingers deep within the heat of our  souls that is telling us that one of us is far superior than another?  Where do thoughts come from?  How can we change them?  Do we even want to?  Is the world really falling apart at the seams?  Are we headed for inevitable extinction, and self-annihilation?  What if… There was no “what if?” These are the questions I will attempt to answer throughout this article, along with the possible solutions to each dilemma.  Take the journey with me – put on your thinking cap, get stoned, go drink a beer, drink ten… I don’t care what you have to do to join me on this quest, but get to it and get back to me… this is going to be Eppic (as in to big for one “P”).

The beginning: We are HUNTER GATHERER’S
What is real?  A white male was killed by a black police officer today… Did you see the news about it?  Um… Probably not.  Why?  It wasn’t there.  But… It happened.  And so we can see that what is real is simply what is real to the person who witnesses it.  Life is, therefore, in some ways fictional.  What you see, what you perceive to be real, may in fact be the very opposite of what someone else may see.  Consider, then, that nothing is real, that even our perception of what we know to be real, may in fact not be.  Black may be light, light may be dark.  Real may be unreal.  True, may be untrue.  Truth may not exist at all.  So, in order to find some sort of history to what “is,” or what/ who “I am,” we have to go back in time.  Back to hunters, back to gatherers, and the decision of humankind to stay in one place.  Let’s understand at least the sociology/ some of the anthropology of this, let’s discover some of the pathways that led us to where we are now.

Human kind has an innate ability to survive.  It is this deep instinct for survival that makes us both human, and animal… A mammal.  You think of a whale and say, “We are not whales!”  But we are… essentially, just animals roaming a planet foraging and planning our next amazing food conquest.  Here’s how it started.
Humankind (Mankind, Western Industrialized humans, mammals of the human species) had simple roots that are deeply ingrained in our psyche, and… when humankind decided to stop traveling, start gathering, start saving… Society as we know it today was born.  From a frugal beginning, man suddenly had to create order out of a slightly chaotic society.  Who then created this?  Let us pre-suppose, for the purposes of this article, that society was born out of the concept of gathering and saving, therefore, the Gatherer’s somehow obtained control.  Whether this was through intelligence, societal rankings, or however, we must have a few presuppositions and this is one of them.  So, if the Gatherer’s eventually maintained control by whatever means they had, we can then assume that hunters became warriors, warriors became slaves out of malice, punishment, or for whatever reason the gathering command had in mind, and that everyone who wasn’t a hunter, gatherer – eventually a soldier – also became slaves.  And, if the purpose of slavery was to create, build, etc. then slavery was in fact useful.  Additionally, Gatherer’s had to take charge because grain storage, distribution of said grain, etc. had to be semi-government controlled.  If then the gatherers took control of storage out of sheer necessity, then, one can fairly assume that Gatherer’s eventually created the civilization that we now know.  We also can safely assume that armies were born out of necessity for control of said harvests and storage, and that being in the military, was – and perhaps still is – a higher form of slavery… That is, “Do what you’re told, don’t ask questions.”  Or as President Bill Clinton put it in 1991 – “Don’t ask… Don’t Tell.”  Therefore,  if we can make these safe assumptions for the purpose of this article, then we can safely move on toward guns… germs, and steel.

In order for humankind to “protect” its food, the storage of said food (always think Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat), and increasing interests that eventually would be termed, “National Interests” and “Foreign Policy,” humankind developed weapons.  Weapons were created from steel.  Steel was created from technology derived from planting and tending to the needs of crops, that were stored, which eventually needed to be protected, which created the need for the domestication of farm animals such as cows, sheep, etc., which led to the eventual domestication of animal diseases, which led to the eventual immune system adaptation and eventual evolution, which enabled mankind to survive plagues and develop medicine to fight said plagues, create science, explore the world, and eventually led to the current civilization that is humankind as we know it today.   Eventually, Humankind began to seek, develop, destroy, refabricate, reinvent, and create more territory, develop better metals, which led to stronger, more powerful, weapons, better technology to enhance said weapons, and the eventual emerging/ creation of current politics, diplomacy, national security  strategies, foreign policy, the combination of science, technology, religion, ethics, economics, and politics as we now understand them, and in a way, realize the supposed truth of the necessity for humankind to posses knowledge and use of the aforementioned.

So how did capitalism come into being if humans were only trying to protect food sources and expand their territory for hunting and gathering?  There are many theories that hypothesize about the innumerable possibilities of this equation, that is, the evolution of human prosperity and the globally / culturally accepted understanding of economics, however, for the purposes of this article, let us pre-suppose the following: 
Capitalism came into being because of human growth, expansion, and knowledge that, led the ruling authorities toward the revolutionary understanding that, without it (capitalism), those in power could not keep their power or pass it on to their kin.

Current Capitalism, to me, does not make sense.  The ever-expanding outputs outweigh the potential and the actual inputs.  Therefore, as Spock would say, “It is illogical Captain.”  To put it another way, Capitalism leaves humankind in constant deficit.  This deficit affects humankind in multiple ways –ways in which we are currently experiencing severe hardship as a derivative – I.e., waste, constantly ever-expanding unsustainable infrastructure, war, peace… unity (lack of).  These issues result from Capitalism and cannot be adjusted, recalculated, or fixed in any way shape or form.  Modern Math, in fact, dictates this equation and the frightening result.  Therefore, what Humankind perceives to be real, “Capitalism” is in fact an illusion – for the purposes of this article given the numerous presuppositions I have repeatedly offered.  (These suppositions, of course, are logically driven and proven as fact by many notable authorities on the subject, and they have been disproven in the same right, by similarly notable professionals).  Regardless, I neither care whether you agree with these presuppositions or not, just that you accept them as what they are:  Presuppositions… They are ideas at best. They have been proven and disproven by many.  Nonetheless, let us continue with this train of thought for a moment and consider government.

Gatherer’s were the keepers of information.  Therefore, again, for the purposes of this article, Gatherer’s were the founders of government as we know it.  Often I am asked, “what is the most important election I should vote in?”  And the answer I ALWAYS provide is:  “He or she who controls water and power controls your destiny… Always vote in your local election.”  And here’s why I say that… GRAIN STORANGE and GATHERER’S.
Those evil bastards… Just Kidding… But, “If his grain can get stolen, MY grain can get stolen!!!!”  Hence law, hence government, hence kingship, hence democracy.

You see,  while all you hunters were out building tools to kill animals, creating steel that helped us Gatherer’s create weapons and plow our fields, we had millennia of understanding about crops… you had years of understanding hunting and warfare.  So… we gatherer’s took control.  While you slowly became our slaves, we slowly became your masters.  And… we dominated you, we used you to tame the  land, we forced you create guns, we forced you to adapt to (and manifest) germs, we destroyed and land that we eventually claimed for ourselves, and now… it’s better that you accept the lie, accept what WE tell you is truth, enjoy your false prosperity with your credit cards and futile lies of wealth… WE are in control… WE are the TRUTH.  WE are the “Truth that stands the test of experience.” (Einstein)

Or do you feel like accepting that truth?
I Don’t.
I accept the facts of it… but not that it is the truth of it.  So… For the purposes of this article, let us hereafter presuppose that I disagree with the aforementioned and feel that Capitalism is an amazing concept, government is a great thing, and that I believe our current world can have a positive outcome for humankind should we work from within to create an alternative.

There is no ONE alternative.
There are several alternatives, but for the purposes of this article we shall name three and dissect each possibility.  Option ONE,  let’s start completely over.  Option TWO, let’s work within the system to change the outcome of our current behavior.  Option THREE, Let’s continue on our current path and hope there is a positive outcome.

OPTION 1: Starting over:
Imagine, if you will, that the lights went out right now.  That you had 20 maybe thirty minutes of battery power on your extremely smart phone that controls the very moment you are in right now because you just…  Got a text.  Regardless, you forget about the text, or the fact that you have no battery power on your phone because the lights are out in your classroom.  30 students look at you, you look at them.  They look at each other.  There is a flash.  It is the electromagnetic pulse that is the remnant from a Chinese nuclear arsenal that has now hit Pearl Harbor, Alaska, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.  Everything gets quiet.  You do not know what has happened?  You know nothing of the attack nor will you for several months as you discover that it will take months to find other survivors…  There is a thunderous clap.  Flash of light.  Poof of dusty smoke, and moments later, you find yourself one of only a few survivors from an all-out – Mutually Assured Destruction.  What do you do now?  You’re a natural leader, and thirty people in your room may have survived?  What is your next step?  The world begins anew…
Thoughts?  _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Give up?  Here’s what I would do…
One, determine who had injuries and who did not.  Divide the dead from the survivors… and establish a preliminary morgue so as not to be preoccupied with the dead / injured, nor to be preoccupied with their safety.  Two; divide into two groups people who had technology, information, news updates, etc. and the people who knew where things were, like food, clothing, etc.  Anyone remaining who had none of these things, I would divide into groups who could assist the aforementioned.

If one were to analyze my actions to this point, the analyzer can very quickly see that what I actually have done was: I just became the ruler.  I have already separated people into groups.  Groups composed of the helpless, people who can find things (hunters), people who can collect and maintain information (gatherer’s), and the unfortunates who have nothing to offer but help those who can hunt or gather… (slaves). Nevertheless, consciously, or subconsciously based on all of the aforementioned presuppositions, there is a VERY high likelihood that in that moment, should it have existed, that all thirty surviving students would have followed me without question.  But then, would we be starting anew?  Starting over?  Or would history, science, etc., dictate that human beings are predestined to revisit the same truths of our current world as a result of following my actions on this theoretical day, in say 2000 years?
BUT… What if we stated OVER completely.  That is, you, me, I, we, Us, Everyone… Did not survive this devastating event? What if the human species was reborn, the world was created anew, and there were hopeful signs for a new human future…

As animals, we would still have instinct I suppose.  This new breed of human beings might still have the same human capabilities, heck… we would be human.  So, obviously we would be hunting, gathering etc.  Let’s start there.  HUNTER GATHERER.

THE CITY STATE must be Reimagined from the Beginning:
The first thing Humanity would have to understand is the connectivity and relationship that man, plants, animals, and all living things share.  Humans would need to be intelligent enough to realize the symbiotic nature humankind has with all living things.  That we are all connected through a collective consciousness that exists for the benefit of Humankind’s salvation.

Imagine a scenario such as this:
You ride on a horse to your neighbor’s house… this may not be a horse, it may be a llama or something that has multiple uses such as food, transportation and water… perhaps a camel… but for now, assume a horse:  You need camel hide for some reason and perhaps a bit of milk… Does your neighbor give it to you?  And if he/ she does, what will you give him in return?  And if you have nothing to offer in return, will he give it to you anyway?   Let us assume that, based on all previous suppositions, he does.  And you return home with milk, a cow hide, and some meet for dinner.  Further, I’d like to pre-suppose from this point forward that this is the case for all transactions of similar nature throughout the duration of at least this section – though I would have it considered for all sections.  Let us also presuppose that – from this moment through the duration of this section that this is the common practice.  That I need something you have and you provide it out of respect for myself – being your neighbor – and should you need something, I will do the same.  Is this BARTERING?

PROOF:  The resulting system would then be based on Earth, common respect for the land and the resource(s) it (He/ She/ Mother) provides, and a system may be developed based on the concept that Humankind is connected to Each other (Interconnectivity), the Earth, and the Universe, therefore God. 

The world is as She is.  And She is in a state of serious downward spiral.  Nevertheless, there is hope.  Given the said conditions in previous aspects of this article, it can be truly said that “Truth is in the eye of the beholder” (Unknown.)   It can also be said that, “Truth stands with the test of experience.” (Einstein.)
Therefore, if the world were to awaken, to accept a new collective consciousness, and accept the follies of previous generations to be true, accepting those truths and rejecting their falsities, could help us understand that Humankind can, in fact, rebuild from within, that we are strong enough, and capable enough to change the world positively, exceptionally, and that we can (and will) do this for the long-term benefit of Humankind.  We have to imagine a new future from within.  So how can this be this be achieved?  How can we correctly change that which is destructive to our culture, society and Humankind as a whole?

CHANGE FROM WITHIN:  There is an “I” in US and that is ”U”
I’d like to suggest from this point on that “You” are the key to changing from within and helping Humankind determine what our fate will be.  You are the answer…  Only you can decide how “we” can change.  U must be the “I” voice in the “US” voice that changes what, who, and why we are.  YOU are the voice that matters, you are the voice that WILL make a difference… Speak up, shout it out, make your thoughts known… Because… YOU are the future, YOU are the now, and like it or not YOU are the past.  In other words, you are the power from within.  You are not without.  You are it, am, with, us, u, you, me, now, then, the future, the…

….  TBC - Dean

Violence as written for Prof. Dan O'Bryan, Sierra Nevada College

I rarely feel that violence is the answer, however, even Nelson Mandela agrees tat on occasion there is a time that peace can be achieved through civil unrest.  In the case of South Africa, for example, the oppressive rule of apartheid could only have ended through a violent revolution.  Violence must sometimes be met with violence.  Terror, however, is a totally completely different scenario.  The goal of terrorists is to strike fear in the hearts of opposing power.  Fear… fear, is NEVER the answer.  Therefore, to specifically answer your question, I cannot see a time that fear instilled in any people, for any reason, can ever be useful… well, perhaps useful for malicious selfish purposes, but, striking the fear and wrath of unimaginable punishment – particularly among innocent people never serves anyone but those wo inflict or instill it.  Fear of anything is never useful.

Eulogy for My Grandfather, as spoken by me.

Eulogy for my Grandfather 10-1-14

My grandfather was one of the most influential figures in my life.  Grandpa gave me more than money, more than gifts. More than love.  Grandpa gave me the spirit of entrepreneurship, the desire to fight for family, the knowledge that truth is always the best answer (even in sales), that integrity is the core foundation of business, that life is not about the answer, but the questioning of the status quo.  My grandfather was my single solitary biggest inspiration for how to start and run a business, and for how to learn from failure and never accept that just because something didn’t work out, doesn’t mean that it will never work out.  He taught me that the art of business extends into the art of patience.  And, I began learning all of this from Grandpa at an early age.  Here’s how he did it.
In life, Grandpa was always working… Sleeping in his home office for example, was both dedication to his work, and a welcome relief I suppose from Grandma’s snoring – although, I’m fairly certain, they woke each other up. 

As a child, I was treated to Grandpa’s expertise in entrepreneurship through farming.  I was lucky enough to ride with him during his visits to each ranch.  He would talk about grapes, grape sales, and teach me about how to deal with customers, clients and vendors, and we would walk out in the vineyards and inspect grapes, check on the status of vines that were both exceptional, and questionable.  And, during our trips into the field, Grandpa would show me how well he treated the lowest worker to the highest paid staff member.  And, he did this by treating everyone with respect from top to bottom, consistently across the board.  Know matter who you were, if he was talking to you, you knew you were number one.  And not just for that moment.  He thought, worked, and played about and with family, and in business, we were all his family.

If it seems like I’m talking to much about business, here’s why:

When I think of Grandpa, I have to admit to you how just how influential he was to me by telling you that I currently reside in Lake Tahoe because of our annual family pilgrimages to Club Tahoe.  The place has so much meaning to me that I currently live less than a block away from Club Tahoe.  I have a sort of spiritual connection to that exact place.  And here’s why.  The day I found out he was no longer with us, I just had to take a picture.  Of what?  Of the hole that still exists on the deck outside Club Tahoe Unit 38 which occurred when he burned a hole in it while BBQing with a hibachi.  Fun event.  But the thing is, the hole is still there!  They just covered it up with a piece of wood!  Don’t believe me?  I changed my FB profile picture to it.   But Tahoe and Grandpa combined have other meanings.
I remember, a time when my sister Nicole kind of jabbed Grandpa too hard while walking back from dinner, and how he stuffed her face in the snow which created a tremendous snowball fight.  I remember Grandpa telling me how bad the rain was during an el nino year and how much I secretly enjoyed the snow that resulted from it.  I remember meeting Grandma and Grandpa at the top of Squaw Valley for lunch, going to the Jacuzzi, playing pool, and I remember a time when grandpa played a little black jack after dinner one night, split aces, and won $1000 – which is to date the only $1000 bill I have ever seen.  Now, as an adult, I live, work and attend school as the only 40-year old student with a mission to earn a degree in both global business, and a minor in Ski resort management.  But, I’m doing these things in my life – because of my Grandfather’s foundation.  Because he always took time to say I love you with remarkable gifts like Lake Tahoe, educational experiences, and an endless supply of love.  And, because he laid the foundation for which I proudly hope to be at least ½ the man he was.

Integrity.  Honesty, and Love.  These were the core foundations from which I was educated by my grandfather.  And they were – to me – The mark of a good man.  The bible tells us that to truly be a man of God, one must be the following:  You must be:
Loving, Joyful, peaceful, patient, gentle, good, faithful, humble, and you must exercise self-control at all times. 
My grandfather was all of these things in all ways.  And, although I can talk about special occasions, fourth of July’s, my favorite Christmas gifts, or moments that were just he and I sitting alone in a vineyard talking about life… I choose not to.  I chose to say this instead.  That my grandfather, Keith Turner Ledbetter was – to re-coin a phrase my sister once used in an epic speech she gave that none of us will ever forget – Keith Turner Ledbetter was truly a remarkable man.

Foreign Policy Op-ed as written for INTB 350, Sierra Nevada College

“Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges conceded to reporters Tuesday [March 17th, 2015] that arming Ukraine could help its fragile pro-Western government on the battlefield, at least in the short term. But he [also] said that it wouldn’t be enough to fundamentally ensure that Ukraine doesn’t lose any more territory to Russia in the wake of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea last year.” (Unknown, Web).

The aforementioned statement intrigues me as I have recently been giving a great deal of thought to the idea that the United States is headed straight into (knowingly or unknowingly) a humanity devastating, globally transitional, internationally recognized global war… that will ultimately lead to world unification, globalization of economic flows, and a total restructuring of civilization as we currently know it.  In other words, we’re headed for a social change toward unification resulting from overpopulation, war, lack of infrastructure, degrading infrastructure, and change in the collective consciousness of humankind that edges us closer (and eventually we will become) to a unified human race that ultimately pulls together to create a… New World Order.

Arming Ukraine citizens is edging us closer to world war (and eventual global unification) because, if America really is striving for peace among nations through the UN, foreign policy, etc., the United States has a responsibility to protect its allies.  At the same time, Russia is theoretically the US’ ally (through the P5+1, etc.) thusly putting American foreign policy in a sticky situation.  Officials must ask themselves, “Should we arm Ukraine and risk a global war to protect our allies?  Or, should we let Ukraine fend for itself and watch our other ally (Russia) destroy…” It seems to go on and on like this forever.  It’s easy to understand why even the highest echelon US officials are having trouble answering the armament question in Ukraine.  According to, “‘Providing weapons is not a strategy,’ Hodges said. ‘There are great arguments for giving weapons to them to help raise the cost for the Russian’s.  I think that is a valid argument.  But saying that’s a valid argument is different from saying that this ought to be the policy.’” (Unknown, Web).

Officials are confused, American citizens are confused, Russia is very obviously confused, and Ukraine is caught in the middle of it.  And, foreign policy was still born out of this indecisiveness because in March, 2015, The US sent weapons and boots to Ukraine, even though - at the time - the media (including reported that, “Hodges’s comments highlight the difficult policy choices facing the White House, where a growing number of senior military officials and civilian officials have publically said in recent weeks that the United States should arm Ukraine.” (Unknown, Web).

So what was the policy then?  Boots on the ground, arm the Ukraine citizens, and stay neutral.  But, how do we stay out of a war between friends?  “Here, take these guns Ukraine and , Russia, you already have weapons so, you’re on your own.”  Then what?  Should the US say, “OK.  We’re gonna drop these weapons in, but from the air – we’re not going in – but, we need to train these guys how to fight you with our weapons so, here… Don’t start fighting until AFTER we get out.  OK… Ready… Set… Go!”  Something like that? We should make a song – Get Neutral, kind of like, We are the World.  Everybody holding hands, sitting on the sidelines, order hot dogs and, who knows… Kebabs or falafel while we watch as, sort of, curious onlookers.  It would be nice… I can envision the pageantry… then… in a few months… New administration in. old administration heads out quietly and says, “we’re out of here, you’re on your own with that.”  I guess, that’s how it will go…  Pass the buck.

That said, if the buck keeps passing along, the world goes further into turmoil… Well…  THE BUCK WILL STOP AT MY DESK, and never leave (should I ever have the privilege of attaining such an amazing responsibility)… Until we finish what should be done now.   Here’s what I would do in this situation (were I President now, and not in 2020 as I am currently planning)… Hindsight- it’s my year.        ;-)

• One: Talk with both countries in a neutral place like – Bolivia.  I say Bolivia because we have a great deal of influence in that region, but it theoretically could be held anywhere outside of the EU, Russia, and the US. 

• Two.  Discuss the issues. Three, Review and Translate into foreign policy (FP) according to Smart, Moral and Legal (FP mainstay doctrine). 
• Three, defer to Congress, the United Nations, and relevant international organizations, revealing outcomes to said organizations PRIOR to consideration of further action.  If answers were needed immediately – as was the case on 9/11 – This process would need to be accomplished real time. 

• FOUR.  Ready the ships.  Prepare for large scale war.  Monitor Russia.  Study troop movements.  Plan for ground assaults.  Plan invasion tactics.  Be prepared for a military outcome. 

• FIVE.  Negotiate again.  Get back to the drawing board and put the negotiating brainiacs to work! 

• SIX.  Notify the press that the US is prepared to take action, but wants both sides to negotiate before it becomes involved.

• SEVEN. Review results, refer to SML, take action.

Essentially, the US foreign policy needs to be fluid enough to have real time action plans, long term action plans, and an action plan that sits somewhere in the middle.  These plans have to be working in conjunction with each other at all times.  In order for this functionality to occur, a system has to be established that can accomplish this task by using all forms of technology available known and yet undiscovered.  Obama’s administration has an uphill fight to accomplish this over the next year and a half.  For it is on his watch, that future foreign policy will be built, and a New World Oder will begin.  What that new world looks like, remains to be seen.  Russia, Ukraine, and the US’ reaction will undoubtedly play an integral part in humanity’s future outcome.

Works Cited
Unknown., Web. 20015.

Community Based Resource Management as written for INTBL 484, Sierra Nevada College

Community Based Natural Resource Management

There is no question that service and giving back to the community you live in is extremely important, however, managing community resources is also a significant part of serving it.  However, in order to truly understand how best to serve the community through Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM), one must first determine what a community really is, and how CBNRM relates to it.  According to the CBNRM manual distributed by the Southern African Wildlife College, “The term ‘community’ despite being widely used in social science, is seldom clearly defined.  [However] There are a number of contexts that can help define what or who the community is.  Communities can be functionally defined in several ways such as: through representative structures; by area; common interest; ethnicity; affinity; resource user group or; land use.  Communities may be characterized by their variation (differences between social groups), variegation (diversification within social groups), and stratification (by wealth and power).  A community can [also] be defined by a shared system of values and moral codes which provide members with a sense of identity (Elna, SAWC).”  Therefore a community is a group of people that has a shared system of values, it can be diverse in ethnicity, but can be grouped together as broadly as people who live in a specific area.  Managing the resources within a community takes strategy, communication, and an understanding of the community’s needs, as well as an understanding of their environment.  CBNRM helps us understand how to do this and can be clearly defined as, “The substantial management of natural resource through returning control over or responsible authority for… resources to the community (Elna, SAWC).”   This means giving control of community based conservation, protected area outreach, collaborative management, and joint forest management back to the community members, rather than through government oversight and control.  Essentially, CBNRM practices give control of the environment back to the people.

“No community lives in isolation [rather it] is connected to others and to society in general.  Communities are also dynamic and change over time, as well as having different meanings for different people and at different times (Elna, SAWC).”  The result is an ever changing system that is essentially a globally connected system that must integrate with the group, the area, the region, the state, the continent, and the world.  This proves in fact that we (humankind) are connected to everyone, everything, everywhere.  In addition, it proves how complex CBNRM really is.  And it all begins within a small group, a small community of people through training, rural development, changing the collective consciousness within that group and small community, and encouraging the concepts of CBNRM to be spread throughout the region, the state, the continent, and the world.  No Easy task, but, it can be accomplished through education, and relating a common understanding as to why CBNRM is so important. 

CBNRM is important because, “Over the past two to three decades there has been a changing focus in rural development thinking from supply driven, ‘top down’ to participatory, demand driven and, ‘bottom up’ approaches [to CBNRM] (Elna, SAWC).”  And, “The important factor is that rights and responsibilities to use resources rest with the community (local) level rather than the state level (Elna, SAWC).”  Therefore, the impact a community has on society in general is exceptionally large.  For example, we often refer to ‘environmental impact’ or the human footprint as a way to relate to our impact on our local ecosystems.  Meaning what we do as individuals affects our community, the region, etc.  As a result, managing our local resources is essential to achieving a sustainable future.

There are several issues, however, “with using ‘community’ as an organizing principle for conservation [particularly] when we try to fit traditionally defined groups and systems into modern structures.  For example, in Zimbabwe, the local authority has three or more tiers, namely district, ward or division, and the village (Elna, SAWC).”  The result is a challenging system in which CBNRM becomes extraordinarily complex, and CBNRM experts are forced to educate all three tiers in order to effectively turn the management of resources over to the community.  However, working from the ground up, meaning the individual, to a small group, to the first tier, to the second tier, to the third tier, can be an effective way to educate the totality of the community about why CBNRM is so important, and once the total community has been educated, resource management can be turned over to local/ community control – which undoubtedly serves the community in a more effective way.  Ultimately, collaboration between CBNRM officials and the community is the key, and there are four essential characteristics that should be considered when trying to identify the best method for working together with a community.  “These are cohesion, legitimacy, delineation, and resilience (Elna, SAWC).” 

The term cohesion, “Refers to a sense of common identity and interest which brings people together and leads them to collectively differentiate themselves from others (Elna, SAWC).”  Usually cohesion refers to a shared history in which a community is forced to share resources due to political, economic, and/ or a shared history.  Therefore, cohesion is an important issue to consider because it is the ‘social glue’ that binds the community together, meaning CBNRM officials will have to learn, understand, and know how to work within the shared social structure of cohesion to effectively return CBNRM to the indigenous people within a specific area. 

The term demarcation, “is usually based on spatial criteria, marking out a fixed land area and the resources on it.  It may, however be drawn on the basis of socially authorized access to given resource categories, as in the case of pastoralism or some fisheries (Elna, SAWC).”  This means that CBNRM officials would be working in a specific geographic area, specific ecosystem, or within a specific social or socioeconomic area.  Therefore, demarcation is an effective way for CBNRM to return resource management to the group within the demarcated area.

Legitimacy, “Can be conferred by an external authority, but this on its own is not sufficient.  More important is internal legitimacy arising from socio-cultural and socio-economic criteria.  In many cases that provide legitimacy at the local level is at odds or in conflict with the criteria which modern… states impose on rural populations, and it is the persistence and adherence to them that creates tension and conflict (Elna, SAWC).”  Therefore, establishing legitimacy internally and externally is essential to returning resource management to the people within a community.  This can be done in several ways including working with government officials, working with local officials, and educating the local population. 

“Resilience and risk [can be defined as]… adaptive management (Elna, SAWC).”  It is now clear to CBNRM officials that, “In the rapidly changing world… the components of organizations are dynamic.  The roots of social cohesion may change in their substance and combinations.  Boundaries of jurisdiction and affiliation may shift. The sources of legitimacy may change. [Therefore,] Effective organizations must accommodate this change over time.  Resilience [therefore,] …is the right and capacity to adapt in content and structure, [thus] …allowing it to do so and is a key tool in the management of risk in uncertain environments and livelihood systems (Elna, SAWC).”  Ultimately this means that the world is an ever-changing place, and, the effective result is that CBNRM officials must work within, as well as understand the changing environment they are working in. 

Knowing what community is, and understanding the aforementioned characteristics, is a useful tool when turning CBNRM over to the people that are directly affected by, and effect the environment in a specific area.  However, understanding the concept of participation is equally important.  “The concept of participation is now firmly entrenched as a key principle in development and conservation theory and practice.    This is part of a fundamental shift in development thinking over the past twenty years, which has sought to move from being capital central to people centered, and based on the need for a radical shift in emphasis from external professionals to local people (Elna, SAWC).”  This means that CBNRM professionals are working from the ground up.  The local level is the priority because communities that understand what is at stake have been shown to make greater  strides in conservation. And, this is the case with almost anything.  To be more precise, when people understand how what they do to the environment affects them directly, communities tend to work more effectively together to accomplish the task at hand.  It is, therefore, understanding the direct impact that makes a difference.  In this way, getting a community to participate in action connects them directly to the effect of their actions thusly stimulating positive behavioral change.
In conclusion, Community Based Conservation has been around for decades.  From the pre-colonial era, to the colonial era, through current time, modern societies have recognized a need to conserve wildlife, conserve natural resources, and minimize the impact of human effects on rural, socioeconomic, and social communities.  The human footprint can change ecosystems, can bring invasive species to a community, can bring devastation, desecration, and harm to a community.  And, it is the responsibility of CBNRM professionals to educate communities about their impact, how it is harming their environment, as well as how to make the necessary changes that will help create a sustainable future for the community, which affects the region, which affects, the state, which affects the world.  Effective CBNRM provides a resource with a focused value, can result in differential benefits to a community, generates a positive correlation between management and quality of the benefit, benefits the unit of proprietorship, and helps small groups/ communities effectively manage their own resources.  It is through CBNRM that communities become aware of their impact, and it is through CBNRM that we can request legislative action, and it is through ground up CBNRM action that communities can create a sustainable future for their own unique ecosystem, the region, the state, and ultimately… the world.

Professor Elna. Southern Africa Wildlife College (SAWC).  Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) handbook, 2015

The Declassified 911 Commission Report as written for Prof. Keith Hansen, Sierra Nevada College

The Declassified US 911 Commission Report shows contradictions and flaws based on an order to shoot down Flight 93 that was issued by Vice President Chaney, and provides evidence that US policies and procedures regarding acceptable loss have changed forever based on non-presidential authority.

Issue Description:
At approximately 10:03AM a decision by Vice President Dick Chaney authorized US fighter jets to shoot down United, Flight 93.  This decision was made while at approximately the same time President Bush was flying out of a Florida airport in a vertical tactical takeoff.  This tactical takeoff would have made it impossible for the President to have been in communication with the Whitehouse at the time the order was given.

Critical Information:
At 10:03AM on the morning of September 11, 2001, during a Whitehouse videoconference with the National Military Command Center (NMCC) reports of two, potentially three hijacked airplanes was discussed.  An order was issued by Vice President Chaney to shoot down any potentially hijacked aircraft.  This order was confirmed during a recorded conversation between Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Chaney.  This conversation took place at 10:25AM.  This order was given while the President was aboard Airforce One in a tactical vertical takeoff, making his ability to issue the order impossible. 

If this order was issued by the Vice President while the President was incapable of issuing it, our entire chain of command was breached and the rules of engagement established prior to 9/11 were violated.  Further, presidential authority was exceeded thusly making all future policies invalid.

This serious error was not made public intentionally, therefore, it must either be corrected in the declassified 911 Commission Report, or, an investigation into this potential breach of protocol must be considered.

Russia. As written for Prof. Keith Hansen, Sierra Nevada College


Key elements of the issue:
Russia has a remaining communist influence over China and Cuba, and there is a lingering ideology among Russians and Russian president Vladimir Putin that Russia should continue to expand its influence throughout the globe.  The country is at odds with US policy in Syria regarding Assad’s influence and ability to remain in power, which is causing the US and Russia to have conflicting, but common interests in Syria and across the globe.

Primary International Security Concerns:
Nuclear proliferation is the primary concern.  During the cold war, Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal increased from a few bombs in the late 1940’s to over 10,000 deployed bombs and warheads in the 1980’s.  Interest in Syria is common with US and a coalition of countries that are resolved to eliminate ISIS.

• Nuclear arms: A deterrent against the US.  The ultimate non-proliferation goal between the US and Russia is to reduce nuclear arms to 1,500 by 2018

• START (1991) reduced bombs to 6,000

• SORT (2002) further reduced to 3,500

• CURRENT:  Post bombings in France, the key international issue is to remove ISIS.  This may require the formation of a global coalition of states including Russia, the US, France, China, India, Saudi Arabia, Iran and other nations that are usually at odds to work together.

• Putin Doctrine: Hegemony: To rebuild Russia as a major power, to protect its citizens abroad.

• Russian foreign policy regarding terrorism:  Putin – The only way to deal with terrorists in Syria is to preemptively strike.

International organizations that are involved:
• United Nations
• International Atomic Energy Agency
• NATO – North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Children and HI/AIDS as written for Prof. Keith Hansen, Sierra Nevada College

Children around the world are still being infected with HIV

Issue Description:
International efforts to eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV, although continuing to intensify, are still not working.

Critical Information:
In 2014 the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that an estimated that the number of children infected with HIV in low and middle income countries declined 40% in 2013, which is down from 400,000 in 2009 to 240,000.  However, the WHO does not feel that this is satisfactory and has created a plan for 2015 dedicated to end HIV infections among children, and keep their mothers alive.

The 2015 Global Plan boasts several improvements to the original plan that have contributed to the decrease in infections.  These improvements include: One, about 2/3 of all pregnant women living with HIV in low and middle class income countries have received ARV drugs that prevent mother to child transmissions.  Two, almost half of the 58 WHO HIV focus countries have adopted WHO recommendations to provide lifelong ART to all pregnant women living with HIV.  Three, all 21 Global Plan Priority countries in the WHO African Region now have guidelines that officially endorse option B or B+.

Currently, there is a downtrend in the transmission of mothers that are infected with HIV to their children, However, the effort is not good enough.  The primary reason efforts are failing is because mothers take their recommended doses of ART, but, when they begin to feel better, go back to work, etc.  They stop taking the drug.  Therefore better education must be provided to truly combat the disease, and its transmission from mother to child.

Nuclear Smuggling as written for Prof. Keith Hansen, Sierra Nevada College

Nuclear smugglers exist and continue to be a threat to US National Security.

Issue Description:
FBI and European authorities have joined together in a cooperative effort to interrupt and dismantle attempts over the last five years (made by gangs with suspected connections to Russia) to sell radioactive material to Middle Eastern extremists, but are losing the battle.

Critical Information:
Criminal organizations (some with ties to the Russian KGB’s successor agency the Federal Security Bureau, FSB) have been driving a nuclear material black market.  This action has been caused primarily because Russian/ US cooperation regarding nuclear / radioactive materials has degraded, and has paved the way for smugglers to gain control of radioactive material due to a lack of regulation.

During an investigation by the AP, a vulnerability in the current anti-smuggling strategy was discovered that include actions by authorities that have caused premature arrests thusly allowing the ringleaders to not only escape, but flee with their merchandise.  The AP also discovered that authorities do not know whether or not the sellers of these materials have been able to successfully sell the material to buyers who intend harm against the US and our citizens across the globe.

Smuggling nuclear weapons and tracking radioactive material should be priority number one on the President’s agenda. In a world where the Radical Islamic State exists, it is imperative that dirty bombs and blueprints for nuclear device, missiles, and weapons not fall into the hands of terrorists.  Recommendation: Dismantle and destroy smuggling operations as priority ONE in the war against terror. Use of Clandestine service and boots on the ground recommended.

Regarding Discrimination as written for Prof. Dan O'Bryan, Sierra Nevada College

Part I.

The most discrimination I have ever experienced happened while in South Africa.  After a VERY long four weeks in the Bush outside of Hoetsprit, which is north of Johannesburg about six hours, I found myself on a much needed break and racing through Johannesburg in a black Mercedes with my heavily armed driver named Mutabo.  We raced through streets that were pitch black due to rolling blackouts, and we found my dinner date waiting for me at a very upscale restaurant located in the heart of the downtown inner city.  My date was a beautiful black native South African woman that I had met long before, and dated for several months after her graduation from Sierra Nevada College.  I told her that someday I would visit her, and there I was in South Africa with a woman I could have very easily fallen head over heels for, and that I may have married were it not for the distance between us.  Nevertheless, there I was, in South Africa, holding hands with Lesego again.

The date, up until my life changing racial experience, had gone well.  We were holding hands, we had kissed a bit, and then we stepped into… the Michael Angelo Hotel.  The Michael Angelo is a historic hotel, was built during the Colonial period, and was a fabulously exotic, yet classic, yet very modern hotel, and it just so happened that the night I was there with Lesego, the African Union was having their annual meeting.  The result was that the entire hotel had been booked, there was no way I was getting us a room for the night… at least not there.  Nevertheless, we decided to have a drink at the bar, and at the bar were two black men dressed in suits so I assumed they were delegates from the African Union Meetings.  It turned out that they were.  In fact, not only were they representatives, they were President Mugabe’s (President of Zimbabwe) delegates.  Zimbabwe, as I was learning at the time, was FAMOUS across the globe as the champions of what, we here in the west, call reverse discrimination, which was well noted through their land redistribution laws (another subject another day).

Lesego speaks Africaans and she was listening in on their conversation.  Not feeling happy about what they were saying, she explained who they were and turned to me and said, “They are talking about us Jarrett (I like the way she says my first name so I allow her to call me by it).”  I said something like, “so what.”  And then she must have heard something she really didn’t like and she turned to me and said, “Kiss me Jarrett.”  So I did.

Upon seeing us kiss, the two Zimbabwe gentlemen stood in anger, tore up their check and stormed off to the smoking lounge.  Lesego grabbed my hand, I paid the check and she pulled me toward the same room.  As we neared the door she pulled me close and kissed me again, “Don’t be afraid.” She said.  “I’m with you.”  She kissed me again, took me by the hand and eased me into the room.

As I entered and took in my surroundings, I VERY quickly realized that I was the only white person in a room filled with black African delegates from all over the continent.

Fortunately, Lesego kissed me again, took my hand, and the horrifying record scratching type moment that occurred as I initially made my presence known, disappeared, and truth be told, Lesego and I made friends with just about everyone except the two gentlemen from Zimbabwe.  Eventually, we retired for the evening, made it home safely, and I have to say that we did this… without creating an international incident.
Part II.

Moving from a global scale to the domestic United States, I can attest to having been discriminated against on many occasions for many different reasons.  True, I am a white 40 something male that is reasonably well situated in the world, but my life has not been without discrimination.  I have actually been discriminated against for allegedly discriminating against others.  Truthfully, there is no right answer here.  The only answer is that discrimination does, in fact, exist, and, what’s worse is that it happens to everyone.  Whether we call it discrimination, bullying, a hate crime, or crimes against humanity – it’s all the same thing really.  It’s about me disliking you because you’re different, or the other way around.  Quite frankly, I think the world has gotten better at this – particularly here in the US.  Nonetheless, discrimination in one form or another exists here in the US and abroad.  Do I like it?  No.  What percentage?  I’m not sure, although I am sure there is data about it – though I am sure the data is biased.  Regardless, if you’re asking whether I think we can get even better at being less critical and, not just tolerant, but respectful of one another… then I’d say yes.

South Africa Reflections 5

Planting, schools, and building a greenhouse.

I am a farmer.  Truly, I love the land in a way that only a farmer can.  I can feel the richness of the earth coursing the veins of our earth and all beings on our planet.  I can sense our connectedness through, with, between, in, and because of the soil that I step on.  I know that somewhere on the other side of the Earth wherever I am standing that there is someone, or some animal, or a plant, or simply another piece of soil standing right benith my feet.  And I can feel this through the core of our living Earth, and the it touches the core of my being.  In this way, I am connected to farming, and I loved every moment that I spent helping to farm and build on the Thornybush community garden site.  Helping to erect a structure that will surely last a season, I dug through the richest, most nutrient filled sold that I have ever seen.  It inspired me to potentially bring my families knowledge of wine grape farming,planting, harvesting, and resources to the area.  It inspired a thought in my head that could help make the land truly sustainable and create a new industry here that could create long term jobs, reinvent the economy throughout the area, and I thought how we could rebuild schools, revitalize the region, and create a positive, lasting, and a beautiful area that could potentially create another industry through tourism and a new wine region, an economy that could potentially re-sstimulate the area's health and prosperity.  Through service to the community garden I became connected to South Africa, and I was inspired to do more.  Which I will  do.  Not just here in South Africa, but across the globe, on every continent, in every nation, in every way that I can.  Perhaps through filmmmaking, perhaps through education, perhaps by political means, perhaps all three.

South Africa Reflections 4

General overview of week 4.

Not my favorite week.  Traveling back to Peoria was uncomfortable, sitting in the back of a car designed for two, sitting in  between two full grown men, stopping at places that I did not expect (which were amazing, but I did not adequately anticipate the cost of said stops, one costing me half my remaining Rand), made me feel a little less than comfortable.  Being confronted by our leaders, accused of something that I do not believe was true, told that I couldn’t drink because it was thought that it was a problem for me, not being given a chance to tell my side of the story, sleeping in a freezing train car on a wood matress, not having adequate restroom facilities for my needs, not being allowed to use the internet, and getting to Pretoria after a 6 hour drive that could have taken a lot less – was not what I envisioned for the trip.  Moreover, being treated like a ten year old was less than pleasing to me….

However, I was able to connect with Lesego, thusly fulfilling a promise that I made 3 years ago.  I enjoyed the evening with her because she is calming, helps me redirect my energy through Ubuntu, and we always seem to have grand adventures when we are together.  I appreciated that I was afforded the opportunity to meet with her, and I was able to flip the switch and shed the irritation that I was feeling about being singled out, not allowed to present the way I had intended, and being treated as a child. So I was good to go the next day.

Experiencing  the apartheid museum made me even more connected to South Africa, and made me want to continue in my research for ways that I could make a positive impact here.  I was happy to be reminded of my youth and my interaction and service to and with Bishop Desmond Tutu. Although it was difficult to watch and see the images of how ruthless men were to other men during apartheid (I was actually moved to tears, especially when I walked into a room that was playing the song Amazing Grace with images of Mandela strewn across a moving image wall), and I was impressed with the museum as a whole.  It was stunning, informative, and beautiful.  I wandered through the entire museum twice, and found that the museum could not be explored in its entirety in just one day. So I resolved to see it again when I return someday.  

Moving into the poverty stricken areas that led the way to Mandela’s home was worth seeing.  I was pleased to understand this aspect of South Africa a little bit more by seeing and experiencing with a first hand point of view.  It is easy to stay in the fun, 5 star areas… but you can not understand South Africa without understanding what’s really going on there.  The frustration people must feel is most likely unbearable.  And I have become even more convinced that in some way I may be able to help change things here.  But there are many problems, many issues that need to beresolved, and I will return in someday with a mission to interact with, and better understand these issues more directly, with my poeople, on my terms, and in my way… which is through working with others, in service to others, and with the message of a lion… Not above you, not below you… but WITH YOU.

South Africa Reflections 3

Leaving the world behind you… that’s sort of how it feels to be in the bush in Africa… you drive into the unknown.  Your guide and driver stops for a moment.  You wonder why.  Then he spins around, your ranger says, “Look, there’s a giraffe.  No, there’s a herd of them.” And you look, you see, you take a picture, and you marvel at their awesomeness.  You think fora moment, “Is that real?” But you’re there, you see it with your own eyes.  And for a moment it’s just like being in California, but you’re not… You’re in Africa…

And right there, right then, you know you’re onto something special.  You think, “How the hell did I get here?”  Then you remember.  An ex-girlfriend challenged you to do it.  An old friend lives here, you met Desmond Tutu, your friend in  college from 20 years ago, South African Mike, Mary’s challenges for the last three years, your grandfather died, you went on a trip, you found yourself needing the credits, and it all adds up.  There’s something special here, something amazing.  And you know, you were meant to be here, something is about to happen.  Then POW! An elephant bursts through a bush. 

You snap out of the reflection and realize… “Shit, I was born for this.  I am an African.  I am a man of the land.  The Earth, the people, the animals, nature.”  And you are free.  You are alive.  You can breathe.  You can rest.  You are you as you were when you were a child.  And you are born again.  You are US, we, them… you are in the moment.  And you ride on, moving forward… And you never look back again.

South Africa Reflections 2

Truthfully, I had no expectations for this journey, which is not to say that I was not excited about doing whatever was planned, or in place for me to do.  As the President of the North Tahoe Lions club, I believe in service to our community and to the global community.  Our motto is  "We serve."  It is in this way that I approach life, not above you, not below you, but with you.  And, as I approached service learning, I went into it with great excitement and anticipation. I walked head long into each situation with a ease to serve humanity, and I was able to do this with what I feel had a tremendous impact on the communities and schools, and areas in which we served.  I take great pride in the things we have accomplished thus far and, I look forward to serving more.  I know that I have a great deal to offer the people of South Africa, and in life, that is my future, I intend to offer more.

South Africa Reflections 1

Nothing can compare to the feeling of riding out on a game drive and experiencing the nature of South Africa.  The closeness one feels to nature, the connectedness to the Earth, the feeling that we are all one coherent unified group of animals roaming the Earth floods you instantly.  Occasionally, your driver and guide will stop the car on nigh time game drives.  You look to the stars, hear the sounds of nature roaming the wild, and then, suddenly, without warning, a leopard will run right past you, and you think to yourself, "I'm in Africa..." 

And the world hits you like a ton of bricks, you realize how small you are, and how big you are... You realize that there is a collective consciousness. There Is a oneness to everything... You can clearly see that we are all part of a symbiotic ecosystem that spans across galaxies.  That there is no divide, there is no "me" only an us.  You look back to the stars, you take comfort in them, and you know, that there is no greater service to humankind than to protect that which we have, that it is limited, that our resources are precious, that you, me , us, we are together in this... And you know you must serve the planet well. You know your responsibility to the world  the universe and beyond, and that you are a small, but important part in maintaining the planet on which we live, and that you must be a great steward of what we have,   that we can maintain who we are, and strive to both preserve our natural world and that you must go above and beyond to initiate a change in the collective of the animal kingdom, which you are a part of... and that you are a part of a greater plan.  So you start to make the changes necessary in your life that will make a difference among men, nations, and people across the world. You begin to KNOW, not just realize, that you are the difference.  So you settle into your new role.  You begin  to see the that you are the game changer.  And this revelation comes bursting to the surface. 


Click here for the AUDIO version:

Nelson Mandela was an amazing leader. His style was that of calm, love, Ubuntu, and he focused on emphasizing
change through peaceful discord while knowing that sometimes civil unrest is the best way to achieve political gain.
He was humble, he was loyal, he was remarkable in every way. And he ushered in a new era of prosperity, unity,
and provided a common goal for his people. These are not qualities that any past president or leader possessed with
the exception of Abraham Lincoln perhaps. Comparing and contrasting them, however, is like trying to compare and
contrast water and oil. The times were different, the circumstances were different, and their constituents were worlds
apart. However, both men possessed skills that are essential to being great. One, they both had the ability to change
the social consciousness. Two, they were both charismatic and used their life trials to bring confident humility to
their jobs, and three, they both spread a message of peace, love, and emphasized unity rather than unrest.

But… These are great men, they rose to power under duress, perhaps unwillingly, and they changed the world for
the greater good. There was no if, there was no why, only a how do we get this done. And this is what makes a great
leader. It isn’t becoming a lawyer and reading thousands of books about law (although that helps in today’s world).
It isn’t becoming a great speaker, or knowing how to respond to quick fire questions (as was noted in the case of
President Bush). It isn’t being the best at something then telling others how your’re the best at it so you should be
the leader. It isn’t about your past life so much as it is what you hope to accomplish in the futre and how you plan to
accomplish those things. No, leadership is more than that. Leadership is about being truthful, honest, filled with
integrity. It’s about being thoughtful, about being able to put things into perspective, reflect, and act in a smart,
moral, and legal way. It’s about connecting with people on the ground level. It’s about understanding the needs of
others and working to fulfill them. And most importantly, great leaders should bring a message of peace, prosperity,
and love to others in an effort to change the social consciousness so that a nation or a group of people can become
one voice. After all, ten people in a crowd of 10,000 is still ONE LOUD VOICE!

Leadership is about changing what really needs to be changed not just for the sake of it. Leadership is about bringing
a group together, not making them drift apart and into indifference. Leadership is about knowing, not just
understanding what to do next, and accepting failure when things don’t work out the way you had it planned.
Leadership is about creation, not destruction – even if destruction seems to be the only answer. Leadership is about
standing up and taking the heat for what someone else may have done wrong. Leadership is about listening more
than talking. Leadership is about blessing others, taking nothing for yourself. Leadership is about humility, knowing
that no matter who you are, you’re still making your own bed every day (something Nelson Mandela and I share in
common). Leadership is knowing when to step up, and when to take a step back.

Leadership is about making the tough choices that no one else can. Leadership is about getting a group organized,
and helping them pave the pathway to their victory, not yours. Leadership is about knowing when to speak up, and
when to stay silent. Leadership is about being positive, thinking universally, and growing the group’s mission.
Leadership is about trusting others who trust you, and treating others with respect. Leadership is about bringing
prosperity to the situation. Leadership is evaluating all outcomes, determining the best course of action, and
reviewing results with others. Leadership is never about me, rather, it is about you. Leadership is about everyone
and everything else, for you are the first to rise, and the last to sleep. Leadership is about explaining to others what
might have gone wrong and perhaps why they are at fault, and why there are consequences while at the same time
not reprimanding, demeaning, or being accusatory. Leadership is about respecting others, and respecting the fact that
others may not respect you. Leadership is about being the example from which others can follow. Leadership is
knowing that respect is earned, not freely given, and that it goes for both parties, in all ways. Leadership is knowing
when to start, how to start, when to stay quiet, and when to shout.

Leadership, therefore, is more than just a simple statement like, “I’m a leader.” It is action, it is words, it is silence, it
is being a resource, it is allowing a forum and participation in that forum means one must listen. Leadership is about
caring for each other, about reaching a common goal and motivating others to help you be the voice of reason.
Leadership is about making 10,000 voices fall silent because your 10 voices are still strengthened by truth.
Leadership is knowing when you are wrong, when to admit it (always), and when to congratulate others for their
success. Leadership is knowing that you gave it your everything, even though others will try to disprove that fact.
Leadership is knowing when to shake hands and join others, and when to stand tall, and not back down.
Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln possessed all of these qualities, and they led their people through tough
times, each saving a nation. And it is people like  these men that have the power to change the world.