Saturday, August 1, 2015

Greed, Corruption, and the Culture of Violence Killed Cecil the Lion

The senseless, brutal, and illegal killing of Cecil, a beloved lion who inhabited Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe has had the Internet abuzz for several days. The black-maned lion was a favorite of visitors to the park, and was radio-collared by a British university for study and monitoring. Then, one day, a rich American big game hunter, who had paid $55K for the privilege, a safari tour operator, and a local guide committed what has to be described as a heinous act. It is reliably reported that the latter two lured Cecil from the park and that the hunter shot Cecil with a bow and arrow. He only wounded him, though, and they had to track the poor animal for 40 hours where he was shot with a rifle. That, by the way, is a common practice of hunters. They don’t like to leave a wounded animal to suffer. But, it didn’t stop there. Despite the fact that they had to have noticed the tracking collar, they beheaded and skinned Cecil and left his corpse to rot.

When word of this deed got out—including a photo of the hunter and the tour operator kneeling next to Cecil’s corpse—there was outrage. From Zimbabweans, and from people around the world, but especially here in the United States. As of now, the two Zimbabweans are in the justice system, and Zimbabwean authorities have requested that the American be extradited back to Zimbabwe to face trial.

Putting the justified outrage and the legal issues aside for a moment, I’d like to address the issues that underlay this senseless act. While I understand those who feel that this outpouring of sympathy for a lion, when so many humans in Zimbabwe continue to suffer privation and abuse, is misplaced, I think they miss the point. The causes of this act relate directly to the troubles all Zimbabweans face.

These causes are greed, corruption, and a culture of violence. The tour operator and the guide were, I believe, motivated by simple greed. After all, $55K, or whatever portion of it they received, is a powerful motivator. That, along with the culture of corruption that I witnessed during the three years that I served as the U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe lead to people doing terrible things sometimes. I still remember with disgust the local official who threatened to take over the remaining game parks in the country and who encouraged the locals to barbecue all the animals. Until such unbridled greed and uncontrolled corruption is brought under control, incidents such as this will continue to take place.

When greed and corruption are combined with a culture of violence, and here I hold many of my fellow Americans as being as guilty as many Zimbabweans, you have a potent witch’s brew that inevitably leads to disaster. In the U.S., our obsession with guns leads to frequent acts of violence that kills not animals but people. This is something we have to deal with—but, as yet, we seem to lack the political will. Zimbabweans need to do the same.

Cecil was not the first victim of this insidious concoction. Who can forget the Facebook photo of the woman kneeling next to the corpse of a giraffe she’d shot during a safari? She, like the killer of Cecil, had no doubt paid a large sum for the privilege of killing this otherwise harmless creature. And, while we're at it, don't forget the other animals that fall prey to trophy hunters and poachers.


Until we all—governments and people on both sides of the Atlantic and around the world—commit to serious efforts to curb corruption, reduce the lure of greed, and address the issues of weapons and violence, we will continue to see such outrageous acts. We need to do this, not just for lions and giraffes and other innocent animals, but for all the people who suffer and die because of greed, corruption and violence.

To Serve and Protect?


Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Reality of Racism

The following article by a student in one of my Osher Lifelong Learning Institute courses last year at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Benjamin D. Gordon, a retired pediatrician, is reprinted with his permission. It is originally dated December 7, 2013.

I started in the practice of Pediatrics in 1955. In those days, I made house calls as my father and uncle and cousin had done before me. As others have found, sometimes we learn things from the simple directness of children.

On a house call one evening, I’d finished seeing the sick child and was crossing the living room on the way out. A four-year-old sibling was on the floor playing with his toy cars. Looking up, he saw me and said, “Hi, Dr. Gordon. These are my cars. The red ones are better than the blue ones.”

I smiled at the immature remark and thought, ‘He will learn you don’t tell the value of a car by the color on the outside.’ But, the next thought was a startled, ‘some people do that with people.’ The worst red-neck bigot would think you an idiot if you told him that about a car. He knows you judge a car by the efficiency of its electronic system, the effectiveness of its brakes, the smoothness of the ride provided by the shock absorbers, the absence of leaks in a rainstorm, the quiet of the motor, the quality of the tires, the comfort of the upholstery, etc. You judge a person by their trustworthiness, their honor and honesty, their efforts at justice and fairness, and their competence at what they do.

But the child was appropriate. We all learn the simplest thing first, i.e., how to characterize and distinguish things by physical characteristics: size, shape, weight and color, because honor, trust, justice and morality require further maturation of the brain. Judging a person on the basis of skin color, eye shape or any other physical quality is functioning at the level of a 4-year-old child.

There are other reasons for prejudice, of course, based on the fundamental factors of fear (the basis for most irrational behavior) and doubt about self-worth.

In the latter case, a person will search for an unchangeable difference—skin color, religion, ethnic or geographic origin—and give to that difference a meaning it does NOT have, namely “that difference means ‘I’m better! I’m worth more.’” This is why the prejudice (judging before we know) is clung to so fiercely. It is supporting a weak ego. This, also, extends to the wealthy elite, many of whom use that wealth and social power to reassure themselves of their worth. Members of that group who really are worthwhile have found ways to care about others. They don’t need the specious reasons to blame those in need for their own problems. The carpenter, plumber, electrician and mechanic who knows his field and how to do a good job has no problem. He knows what he’s worth as a human being. He’s able to give value and help to others. I’ve alwsys taught the teenagers, a time when we all struggled with this, that the secret of being significant is always how much you can help, never how much you can hurt. Those who create fear in others, thinking that makes them ‘significant’ are really creating those who, at the first opportunity, will pay them back.

I am white. One of my roommates (during) my last semester at college was black. The poem from my collection The Nohnlove was dedicated to him.

ON RACIAL PREJUDICE
(for J.G.)

The judging of one before
His meeting
Is such an obvious idiocy
It gives the mind a pause
In wonder.

The zygote of this seed
Originates with two –
As any other
First, not to doubt a father’s teaching,
Then, to get him—live or dead—
To give approval:

“See. See. See.
I do the same. The same as you.
I hate the same. I love the same.”

The key’s an antithetic one
The Blindness leads to Sight.
A learned achromotopsia

Must lead us out of fright.

Dr. Benjamin D. Gordon's collection of poems can be found at:

Monday, June 15, 2015

Where is the truth? Where is the Trust?

I'm fond of saying that I don't trust politicians, lawyers, and bureaucrats, in that order. Lately, though, I've decided to add a category to that list - advertisers. Not, mind you, that I believe everything I see advertised; but lately, it seems to have really gone over the top.

Forget the ads for miracle cures for everything from erectile dysfunction to eczema - which, by the way, have some pretty dreadful side effects - no, I'm talking about food advertising. In particular, I'm talking about ads for dog and cat food versus human food.

There's this one brand of pet food that assures the buyer it contains no corn, wheat, or soy products. The implication here is that these products are not good for your little bow bow or kitty cat. Okay, I'm good with that, except for one thing--have you ever looked at the ingredient label on the food YOU eat?  Here are a few I took from my pantry this morning. The images are fuzzy, but you can plainly see the presence of wheat, corn, and in one case possibly soy.





Now, my question is this: if these products are so bad for animals, why are they being fed to us humans?





JuiceBeauty.com

Monday, May 4, 2015

Give Local Piedmont and the Cold War Museum


On Tuesday May 5 your donations (including membership payments) to The Cold War Museum will be doubled by a local foundation. Please give to the museum on Tuesday and tell your friends. Here’s the link that must be used to ensure the match of your contribution: https://www.givelocalpiedmont.org/.


Friday, May 1, 2015

The Cold War Museum


The Cold War Museum® is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to education, preservation, and research on the global, ideological, and political confrontations between East and West from the end of World War II to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
The Museum is located at Vint Hill, in one of the former Vint Hill Farm Station buildings used during the Cold War by the US Army, the National Security Agency, and the Central Intelligence Agency to intercept and interpret coded messages. Our collections are particularly strong on signals intelligence, image intelligence, aerial surveillance, civil defense, Berlin, the East German secret police (STASI), the Cuban Missile Crisis, and events such as the Pueblo and Liberty incidents. The Museum shares a campus with The Inn at Vint Hill, the Vint Hill Craft Winery, the Covert Café, and Old Bust Head Brewing Company. Our website (www.coldwar.org) provides extensive information about aspects of the Cold War.  The street address is 7172 Lineweaver Road, Vint Hill, VA 20187.  Hours: Saturdays 11-4, Sundays 1-4, and by appointment. Admission and the tour are free but we welcome donations.

Support Local Piedmont Nonprofits Through Give Local Piedmont (GLP)

For 24 hours, on May 5, 2015 only, people can make gifts of $10 or more to participating nonprofit organizations that are located in or provide services to Culpeper, Fauquier, Madison, and Rappahannock Counties in Virginia.

Donations must be made through Give Local Piedmont (GLP) in order for the nonprofits to be eligible for matching funds and grant prizes to support their operations.
GLP is sponsored by the Northern Piedmont Community Foundation (NPCF) as part of the nationwide Give Local America.


Among the nonprofits participating in GLP this year is The Cold War Museum, which is located at Vint Hill Farm, Warrenton, Virginia, the former site of the Army Security Agency monitoring station that was in operation from 1942 until the end of the Cold War. The Cold War Museum is dedicated to educating Americans about this critical period in American and world history.

How do you make a donation?

On Tuesday, May 5, 2015, go to www.givelocalpiedmont.org and type in the name of the nonprofit(s) to which you wish to give. If you are looking for a charity or organization to support (and I’m really pushing the Cold War Museum here), you can search by category. Your chosen nonprofit will have a donation page on www.givelocalpiedmont.org where you can choose the amount you want to donate from $10 up.

For more information on the Cold War Museum, see my post at:

Ben E King - Stand By Me - Prince's Trust All Stars Band - Live - 1987

Art and Wine: Special Fine Arts America Promotion for the Month of May

 Art and wine are the perfect companions. Now, for the month of May only, you can combine the two. Fine Arts America, an organization that has revolutionized how art is purchased--one of the best sites on the Web to get the works of independent artists and photographers--is teaming up with NakedWines.com, a consortium of independent vintners, to offer a May special combination that you don't want to miss.

For every purchase of an artwork at Fine Arts America you get a $100 gift certificate good for your first purchase of wines from NakedWines.  Go here for more information on this promotion, and while you're at it, go to my site at http://2-charles-ray.artistwebsites.com/ and see what I have to offer. Remember, for every art purchase during the month of May, you get a $100 gift certificate good for your first purchase of wine from NakedWines.

There's no minimum purchase required on Fine Art America in order to receive the gift certificate.   For example, if your buyer purchases a $5 greeting card from you, the buyer will still get the $100 gift certificate.
When you place an order on FineArtAmerica.com, we'll e-mail you a $100 gift certificate from NakedWines.com... instantly.   It doesn't matter how large your order is on FineArtAmerica.com.   If you order a single greeting card, you'll still receive the gift certificate.
Once you receive the gift certificate, all you have to do is visit NakedWines.com, enter in your gift certificate code, buy some wine, and you're done!   Then, just sit back and wait for the wine to arrive on your doorstep.   If the logistical stars are in alignment, maybe your wine and your order from Fine Art America will arrive at the same time!
Before using your gift certificate on NakedWines.com, please note the following restrictions:
Terms & Restrictions
The $100 gift certificate is only valid for first-time buyers on NakedWines.com and can only be applied towards purchases of $160 or more.   You must be 21 years or older to redeem the gift certificate.   Wine can not be shipped outside of the United States.   Additional restrictions apply.   Void where prohibited.   See complete details athttp://us.nakedwines.com/100voucher.   Naked Wines is not affiliated with Naked Winery (http://nakedwinery.com) in Hood River, Oregon.
There is no minimum purchase required on Fine Art America in order to receive the gift certificate.   If you purchase a greeting card for $5, for example, you'll still receive the gift certificate from NakedWines.com - yes, really!

Deals like this don't come along every day, so, before it's too late, take advantage of it!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Cold War Museum: Experience a Critical Part of American and World History

From 1946 until the breakup of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall in the late 1980s, the world was gripped by the superpower competition between the US and the USSR known as the Cold War. This face off between the two most powerful nations on the planet at the time was often fought by proxies, and it involved every corner of the globe, from Asia to Africa, and as the Cuban Missile Crisis demonstrated, even close to our shores.

While many veterans of the Cold War are still active, most Americans have little knowledge or understanding of this seminal period of world history. There is a way, though, to learn about the Cold War. Visit the Cold War Museum in Vint Hill, Virginia - itself a place that has played a key role in American history since World War II and throughout the Cold War as the US Army Security Agency Field Station. Better yet, consider becoming a member of the museum. Information on the museum's history, and how to join can be found at its Web site.

Founded in 1996 by Francis Gary Powers, Jr., son of Air Force officer Francis Gary Powers of 1960 U-2 incident fame, and John Welch, a retired military officer and history buff, the Cold War Museum houses one of the most comprehensive collections of Cold War documents and artifacts in the world. Currently open only on Saturdays and Sundays, but available for special tours by arrangement, this is a place that will astound you.

The Cuban Missile Crisis, for instance--not many people know just how close the world came to nuclear war during this crisis. The exhibit on Soviet submarine B-59 tells about a nuclear-torpedo-armed vessel that was inside the embargo line whose skipper considered launching his nuclear torpedo in a desperation move. Only the refusal of his second in command to endorse the launch saved thousands--if not millions--of lives.

Soviet B-59 submarine off the coast of Cuba during the
Cuban Missile Crisis being shadowed by a U.S. heli-
copter. This vessel came close to starting World War III.


Visit the museum website--or better yet, make it a weekend and take the family to the museum itself. It's located at 7142 Lineweaver Road, Warrenton, VA, inside the former Vint Hill Farm military base. It's open on Saturdays from 11 am to 4 pm and Sundays from 1 to 4 pm, and by special arrangement at other times by contacting Executive Director Jason Hall at Jason@coldwar.org.

The museum also publishes the online journal The Cold War Times, a journal to chronicle the history of the Cold War. A copy of the current issue can be seen here.

The Cold War Museum
P.O. Box 861526
(7142 Lineweaver Road)
Vint Hill, VA 20187
(540)-341-2008



Saturday, April 25, 2015


There's still time to support independent film producer Josey Wells efforts to bring to the film the story of the life of Bass Reeves, one of the most famous deputy US marshals in history.


Find the Greatest Tickets in the Nation at VenueKings.com!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Jim Kukral - Author Marketing Live! Virtual 2015

Hybrid Warfare: Where's the Beef?

An excellent analysis of warfare in the current age can be read at 'War on the Rocks.'

“Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”
— Sun Tzu, The Art of War
“The backbone of surprise is fusing speed with secrecy.”
— Carl von Clausewitz, Vom Kriege

Lately, a lot has been said and written down on hybrid war and hybrid warfare. The hybrid war thesis has been advocated to depict the new reality of contemporary warfare. Although the concept is not a new one, it has been proposed that today we are witnessing some new features in warfare. Russia’s capture of the Crimean peninsula and its support to the separatists in Eastern Ukraine have been presented as the contemporary pinnacle of hybrid warfare. For many analysts of contemporary security and defense issues, the hubris around this buzzword seems to neglect the very basic principles of war that have been discussed and theorized for centuries. Namely, war is not — and has actually never been — a “pure” military matter that is executed only by military forces. When looking closely at the various attributes of Russian and separatist warfare in Ukraine that together are said to constitute hybrid warfare, it becomes clear that none of this is new or unique to a special kind of warfare known as hybrid.
To read more go here.


http://warontherocks.com/2015/04/hybrid-warfare-wheres-the-beef/

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

AFSA 2015 Governing Board Election Town Hall at AFSA HQ

The Effective Global Leadership Forum














The Meridian International Center and the Thunderbird School of Global Management, Washington, DC Alumni Chapter is the venue for

The Effective Global Leadership Forum

Hosted by Ambassador Stuart Holliday, President and CEO Meridian International Center
and
Dr. Allen Morrison, CEO and Global Director
Thunderbird School of Global Management
Featuring
Ambassador (retired) Charles A. Ray - former Ambassador to Cambodia and Zimbabwe

**
Sonia Patterson - President and CEO of Five Talents

April 30, 2015
6:00 - 9:30 PM
         at
Meridian International Center
1630 Crescent Pl. NW
Washington, DC 20009
http://www.meridian.org/

For more information on this event, contact:  Lori Foster (415) 450-0312 or  lorimfoster1228@yahoo.com

Friday, April 10, 2015

Help needed at Cold War Museum

Help needed at Cold War Museum. Located at Vint Hill Farm near Warrenton, VA, this small museum catalogues a significant period in American history.