Once again, Cuba has asked the United Nations to help end the U.S. economic, financial and trade embargo. Havana says this blockade cost it more than $242 million last year. The embargo also stymies Cuban access to foreign capital from other nations, because investors face possible U.S. sanctions for doing business with Cuba.
never much liked the idea of arms control. During the Cold War, we managed our nuclear arsenals rather than reduced them. We treated our nukes like huge, dangerous animals. We restricted their movements but gave them ample care and feeding. Until recently, getting rid of the animals altogether wasn’t part of the political agenda. After all, our leaders believed that these beasts were useful. They scared away the covetous neighbors.
Late last month, five U.S. troops died within 24 hours in southern Afghanistan. Taliban militants have killed more Americans and other troops deployed by NATO this year than in any of the previous years since President Bush ordered the invasion in 2001.
The U.S. economy has lost more than 2 million jobs this year, ratcheting the unemployment rate to 9.7 percent, the highest level since 1983.
But the politicians and pundits didn’t seem to notice. They’re fixating instead on the stock market’s rebound as a sign of recovery. While that might mean a boost for Wall Street, it hasn’t helped the rest of us very much.
President Barack Obama’s drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, should be commended for initiating some basic reforms in U.S. drug policy. One of his first sensible acts was to drop the phrase “War on Drugs.” “Regardless of how you try to explain to people that it’s a ‘war on drugs’ or a ‘war on a product,’ people see a war as a war on them,” he explained. “We’re not at war with people in this country.”
It’s time for a constructive debate about health care that hinges on facts instead of fear.
The black love affair with President Barack Obama is stronger than with any figure in the post-civil rights era. According to a recent New York Times poll, President Obama enjoys a 96% approval rating among African Americans. As an African American myself, I too feel pride and joy in seeing one of us succeed and attain so much respect and acclaim in the United States, a country with such a strong and recent history of racist oppression and alienation.
Bank robber Willie Sutton famously said he robbed banks because “that’s where the money is.” Applying this logic to cutting our Federal budget deficit would lead to this conclusion — to save money, we have to cut military spending. That’s where the Bush/Cheney Administration essentially doubled spending during its two terms. That’s where the money is.
Our society is built not just by bone and flesh but also by imagination. We’re wealthy when we create. We’re poor when poetry is missing from our lives. But how do we sustain our creative lives during a time of economic crisis? Clearly, our country is in trouble. We lost over one million jobs in 2008. Families are losing their homes. Young people are wondering whether there will be jobs for them when they graduate. We’re told this is the worst recession in 30 years and that it’s probably going to get worse yet. President Barack Obama’s election was a call for change. It’s also a testament to what Americans can accomplish if we put our minds to it.