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Every twenty minutes one or more of the presently 100 Million abandoned, and useless landmines claims one or more victims.
The United States is not lifting a (bloody) finger to improve on that horrid situation.

Stronger still, The United States continues to develop, market, sell and deploy land-mines that for the better part will mostly claim innocent civilians as their victims.  

Imagine if that same landmine threat would exist here in our states, our counties and our neighborhoods as it does in gigantic stretches of South Central Africa, the Far East and South America.

More after the flip

Imagine 10 year old Michael.

Michael is a nice, cute young kid, full of life and fantasies about
castles, dragons or maybe GI-Joe adventures. He goes off
to play outside like he always does and he meets up with
his buddies. Soon they are chasing each other round the block
and at one point they get to 'the Line'. The Line is at the edge
of where Michael and his friends are supposed to play and
they're not supposed to cross it. The Line is marked with white
sticks with a red dash of paint, or a red piece of ribbon tied
around the tip. The sticks must have stuck in the ground into
the ground a long time ago, since some have become overgrown
and most of the red tips have bleached to a dull brownish smear.

They were never told why they were never supposed to cross
'The Line' and their parents always speak in hushed voices and
nervously look around to see whether anyone is listening when
they talk about 'the Line' and what lies beyond. Something about
'the Troops' and 'the Rebels' but Michael and his buddies have
never seen the troops other than from great distance.
Troops always move in trucks, knows Michael and those trucks
always stay on the highway that loops around town. "They never
stop here anyway so what's the silly fuss about them", Thinks
Michael. As for 'the Rebels', those only exist in old Bogey-man
tales and myhts about what happened a long time ago, like more
than fifteen years ago. Michael has never seen them and frankly
speaking doubts whether they ever really existed. In any case,
they're not here now and he's not going to get scared of Bogey-mans

Michael had brought his new soccer ball with him and soon he and
his friends are running, throwing and kicking it around at the
field along 'The  Line'. The local soccer team-captain, Gary makes
a strong and high pass at Fat Larry, who promptly goofs up and
fails to catch it so that it then bounces onward across 'the Line'.
The ball bounces 3 or 4 times and rolls out to come to rest near
a stack of dead branches a hundred feet away and all the kids stop
and hesitate about what's to be done next as they look at Michael.
Of course Michael is pissed off. His brand new ball that his uncle
brought for him from the city, far away, is now lost across 'the Line'
and he's not supposed to go get it, but his impulse is to run after it
and get it back.
For a moment Michael hesitates, but then gives in to what was drilled
into him about not crossing 'the Line', but some of the guys snicker
and goad him on. "C'mon Michael! Are you scared to get your nice
new ball? Are you scared about 'the Line'?" Still, Michael, with
slumping shoulders and with a lump of resigned sadness in his throat
moves away from 'the Line' and is walking back home. Then, Sammy
the always joking and cajoling clown of the neighborhood starts
goading Michael. "Hey Michael, are you too scared to get your ball?
Is little Mickey scaired of the Troopy fighters or is it the Rebby Bogeys?
Little Mickey lost his ball and now he doesn't have any balls at all!"
Sammy continues and is getting the other guys to laugh and sneer
along. Michael is really getting angry. Losing the ball, even when he
can clearly see it sittin there in the bush is one thing, but being made
fun off and ridiculed drives him positively nuts. Certainly when they are
talking about his 'balls'. He's privately very proud of his 'balls' so it hurts
double when people make fun of him about it. At that fateful moment
Michael turns around and heads toward 'the Line' and walks across it.
He carefully walks towards the luring pigskin that lies there gleaming
and teasing in the bush, seemingly mocking him as well.
Michael doesn't really know what to look out for, but he peeks ahead of
him, looking into the treeline and expecting the mythical Troops and
Rebels to show up any moment, riled and rankled by his audacity to
venture into their forbidden land beyong 'the Line', but nothing happened
and eventually Michael reaches his beloved soccer ball.
He picks it up and triumphantly holds and juggles it up to the now
cheering gaggle of kids along 'the Line'.
Bursting now with confidence, Michael struts back and fails to hear the
telltale click when his sneaker presses into the soil.

Michael wakes up. He lies on the ground and is looking at a sneaker that
lies in the dirt, about twenty feet away. The sneaker looks strangely
familiar, but it doesn't really register that it is his own.
Michael notices that he's dizzy and that his ears are ringing, but aside
from that, he hears absolutely nothing, but there's a little blood dripping from his face that seems to come from his ears. Things are smokey and it stinks. It stinks like a horse stable that hasn't been cleaned for a month and his legs hurt. In fact his whole body hurts and even breathing hurts like something burns inside his chest. He tries to move and get up, but that doesn't work and he falls back on his side. He now looks down at his legs and sees the squirting bloody stump with shards of bone sticking out from the shredded flesh under his knee. Michael passes out and the next thing he knows is that someone jabs a needle in his arm and that he's being picked up by strong hands.

Michaels hearing returned a bit a week later, shortly after his ears stopped bleeding and eventually resturned nearly completely over the next couple of months. Those were painful months for Michael, because his hearing might return and his lungs stop aching and his blurred vision became clear again and he had his soccerball back, but his foot and the better part of his left leg under the knee was gone and would never come back. Maybe his dad would be able to get enough money scraped together to get a 'dummy leg' for him, but for the time being, Michael was going to get around with a lot of help and on crudely made crutches.

The police officer that had pulled him out of the minefield and the emergency worker who had given the first aid, returned a couple of weeks later and gave all the boys and girls and a fair number of the adults for that matter, an explanation of what happened. They said that, as unfortunate as things had worked out for Michales leg, Michael had been very lucky to have survived at all.
The Police officer held up a little thing, the shape and size of an old-fashioned inkpot, that Michael used to use in school. It was about 2 inches high and about 3 inches wide at the bottom. "This is a model of the anti-personnel mine that Michael stepped on and it is capable to take off your foot....all the way to your butt." The policeman said bluntly.
"It was found about four feet from the one that Michael stepped on. We found it when we tried to get him out of the field and it was also
two feet from this little beauty."He continued as he took an ugly green and brown streaked ribbed cylinder, about the size of a large cooky can. About 8 Inch wide and 5 Inch high with faded red markings in its side near the bottom.
"This one would have left nothing recognizable of Michael and probably would have wounded a lot of his friends as well." The officer somberly stated as he let his gaze wander around, letting it rest an and every present kid and adult and piercingly looking them in the eyes for a moment. Last, the officer looked at Michael and sternly said "That was a pretty stupid thing you did, and it put all of your friends in grave danger, but you're not the only one who makes those mistakes. ..." He paused, sighed and pulled up his left leg and let the
boot, shined to a deep luster, rest on the chair. He then pulled up the leg of his neatly pressed pants and showed them all the metal and plastic prothesis that he wore. This happened to me seven years ago near my father's farm as I was taking a forbidden shortcut to one of his fields. I thought that the war had been over for so long that the landmines had gone away too. They didn't and I too lost my foot and my lower leg.This will happen again near someone else's farm, or in some stretch of bushland as here across 'the Line'. As long as the landmines are not dug up and removed, these things will happen, so mind the red-white sticks and the skull-and-bones signs, will you? They're there for a very
sad, but very serious and valid reason."

Now Michael could have been called Yaw Amoma, and Gary and Fat Larry could go by similar local names and Sammy, well Sammy may well just be Sammy. Anywhere in the world, boys are boys and kids are kids, so rules get bent and broken in the heat of play and peer-dynamics. All over the world and in all places. But not all places have landmines. Not all places have abandoned and useless, cruelly terrorizing, maiming and killing mine-fields that right now, every twenty minutes creates another victim. A young kid at play, an old geezer and his goat, a mother fetching firewood in the bush to cook for her kids, a farmer trying to eke out a living, a tourist who can't read skull-and-bones signs, an elephant who can't read or understand signs and mine-field markers at all. Some are smart, some are stupid, but all are basically innocent civilians or unwitting livestock and wildlife that are getting hurt and maimed by the unending danger of abandoned minefields for which we too, as a Nation, as the United States, bear responsibility, because some of those mines were: "Proudly made in America".

To this date an unlike most other civilized nations, the United states continues to develop, produce, market, sell and deploy landmines that end up in minefields as described above.
In South Central Africa or in the Far East, or in Central America, or in Columbia and Peru. Anywhere, where the American Military Industrial Complex can find clients who can afford them, or places where the United States Government finds political reasons to support regimes and provide them with these despicable and military useless weapons of terror and mass-destruction.

The time is well overdue to put a stop to that. America must undersign and ratify the 1997 Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty and finally start pulling its weigh helping to clear the existing abandoned fields.

Bring this to the attention of your congress-critter and your US Senator(s) so that we, as a Nation can at least restore some of our moral standing as a nation that way.

Thank you.

Originally posted to Kalong on Fri Nov 24, 2006 at 01:43 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Land Mines (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Coherent Viewpoint, possum

    Google is my friend..

    Accudyne, which was founded in 1954 as a spinoff of the Hammond Organ Company, is a subsidiary of Alliant Techsystems of Hopkins, Minnesota. The parent company, a leader in the munitions field, is worth more than $1 billion. Alliant does a brisk business in land mines. It raked in $350 million in land-mine sales between 1985 and 1995. Accudyne itself brought in $150 million from land mines during those years, making the company the third-largest builder of anti-personnel mines in the country. Together, Alliant and its subsidiary Accudyne "hold a prominent role in that particular hall of shame," says Andrew Cooper, land-mine researcher for the Arms Project of Human Rights Watch.

    Anti-personnel land-mines have featured prominently in the colonial and post-colonial wars that have plagued much of southern Africa for the last three decades. During this period, many millions of landmines were imported into southern Africa; others were manufactured in the region. More than 66 different types of anti-personnel mines from 21 countries have been found in southern Africa. These countries are Austria, Belgium, Cuba, China, former Czechoslovakia, France, former East Germany, former West Germany, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Hungary, Romania, South Africa, former Soviet Union, Spain, Sweden, Britain, United States, former Yugoslavia and Zimbabwe.

    The arms dealers of this world obviously reside in all the best places.

    Oh that we had the gift to see ourselves as others see us. Robbie Burns

    by ohcanada on Fri Nov 24, 2006 at 06:31:04 PM PST

  •  What about... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the land mines in Lebanon & Palestine, that the Israelis will not supply maps for?

    "Information withheld is opportunity denied"

    by Yestermorrow on Fri Nov 24, 2006 at 08:41:18 PM PST

  •  But, but, - - Korean DMZ (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenreflex, possum

    If memory serves, the U.S. excuse for not signing on to the landmine ban was that it was necessary to keep North Korea from invading South Korea.  I'm sure the people in countries around the world who are still suffering with this mess would be very impressed by such an argument.  Think the Dems would be willing to add this little item on to their second-100-hour agenda come January?   (Lord knows, there's plenty to work on). And I also wonder how Bush would respond.

    I can google to find references to advanced technology for finding mines, but triggering them seems to still be a fairly primitive process.  I'd like to see some efforts toward mass triggering of mines with resonance vibrations.  (Think of it as a brute-force way to find them).

    I was curious to know which nations are being hit the hardest by this. (A map would have been interesting, but I couldn't find one).   I was surprised to find that the country with the most landmine casualties in 2005 was - Columbia. I would have thought some country in Africa, but there's been fighting in Columbia for something like 40 years, so I should have expected it.

    What a sad and infuriating situation.

  •  boxes of rocks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Planes dropping cobblestones, like a rain, might clear up some sites; warn locals beforehand to put on tin hats.  

    Take pleasure in your dreams; relish your principles and drape your purest feelings on the heart of a precious lover. Giotto about 1300. Florence.

    by signalcamp on Fri Nov 24, 2006 at 09:30:54 PM PST

  •  here's one organization (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    trying to do something about the mess:

    Let's get some Democracy for America

    by murphy on Fri Nov 24, 2006 at 09:40:46 PM PST

  •  and here's another one (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    working against this plague:

    Let's get some Democracy for America

    by murphy on Fri Nov 24, 2006 at 09:43:12 PM PST

  •  can't they be made to "expire" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenreflex, possum

    if you know you only need them for a certain duration..have them disarm themselves??

    •  Yes (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Coherent Viewpoint, possum

      The newer "smart" mines can be and are fitted with short life batteries, or in some cases can be remotely detonated by the forces that planted them once their military utility is ended.

      The problem lies with cheap "dumb" mines, with no such deactivation capabilities, and which are almost exclusively made of plastic, making them extremely hard to locate and deactivate.

      A larger problem lies with unexploded ordinance - everything from a CBU about the size of a tennis ball (there are literally millions of these out there waiting for a child or a scrap metal dealer to pick them up) up to a 15,000 pound daisycutter bomb, about the size of a small car - they have found and deactivated two of these in Vietnam, some thirty five years after they were dropped and failed to detonate.

      The magnitude of the problem is enormous: in the last 72 hours of the recent hostilities in Lebanon, Israel dropped 4 million CBUs, mostly in popolated areas alond the border.  CBUs have a failure rate of up to 40% in some cases - you do the math.  It will take three decdades to clear what was sown there in three days.  

      In thirty one years since the end of the conflict in Vietnam, less than 20% of the estimated ordinance and land mines have been cleared, despite the energies of the government an several internationally supported programs.  Close to 100,000 civilians have been killed or wounded by these devices in that same time frame.

      I am a warrior for peace. And not a gentle man ..Steve Mason, 1940-2005

      by Wayward Wind on Sat Nov 25, 2006 at 12:18:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I saw an ad (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Coherent Viewpoint

    ... on TV featuring a young American family in a minivan headed for a soccer game, followed by a bit of the game itself, with the moms and dads cheering from the sidelines.  Suddenly -- BOOM -- and the children lie sprawled on the field surrounded by smoke and anguish.  

    Dear God, what an impact on this viewer.  I'm an old fart, the father of three. I'm a grandfather, and I was in tears.

    When Americans can identify with the horrors we have helped unleash on the world, maybe some progress can be made in rectifying the situation.  Ads like the one I saw will surely help.

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