Sunday, January 22, 2012

Arab League Seeks UN Help

The Arab League has demanded that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad resign from his office and turn power over to his vice president. They furthermore called for the Syrian government to start a dialogue with the opposition within two weeks and for a unity government to be formed within two months. The temporary government would then have three months to write a new constitution and then hold parliamentary and presidential elections. The Syrian government quickly rejected the proposal. And now the Arab League will submit it to the UN for international backing.

Til now the Arab League had been content to extend it's observation mission another month, but Saudi Arabia had stated it would pull it's observers out, stating that Syria had not lived up to it's part of the agreement. Under the agreement for observers, Assad's government was to, "cease all violence against civilians, free political detainees, remove tanks and weapons from cities and allow outsiders, including the international news media, to travel freely in Syria". Very little of which happened.

Saturday alone saw the deaths of at least fifty-nine. Since last March when protests began, it is estimated that up to ten thousand have been killed in the violence, that in some areas of the country has gone all the way to civil war.

USS Abraham Lincoln Enters the Persian Gulf

The USS Abraham Lincoln continued it's routine mission and has passed through the Strait of Hormuz and into the Persian Gulf without incident. After all the hype, Iran's threats really just were bluster. Iran backed down with a message from Revolutionary Guard Corps Deputy Commander Hossein Salami, "U.S. warships and military forces have been in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East region for many years and their decision in relation to the dispatch of a new warship is not a new issue and it should be interpreted as part of their permanent presence."

Previously in December, Iranian army chief Ataollah Salehi had threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz and specified that any United States carrier that attempted to enter the Gulf would come under attack. Since then hostilities had only escalated, partially due to the assassination of an Iranian scientist, that Iran blamed on the US, Britain, and Israel.

Iran has not backed down from their threats to retaliate against the US and her allies if they do not cancel their planned sanctions against Iran. The sanctions are being placed in response to Iran's continued nuclear program, that many fear is an attempt to produce weapons. Even Iran's long time ally, China, has cut trade down with Iran due to their refusal to cooperate with the international community. In fact, the European Union is planning to intensify their sanctions and announced that they may freeze the assets of Iran's central bank.

To add to Iran's troubles, Turkey announced that they seized a shipment of chemical weapons, that had been sent from Iran and were headed to civil strife torn Syria. The United Nations announced that they are investigating the incident. Only Russia's defense is likely to keep the UN from setting it's own sanctions against Iran. Though Russia may back down from that as they are also the only international country that is backing Assad's government in Syria.

Giffords Resigns

Via her Facebook, Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, has announced she will retire. “I have more work to do on my recovery so to do what is best for Arizona I will step down this week. I’m getting better every day, my spirit is high.”

It was just over a year ago, that Giffords was shot by Jared Lee Loughner, in an apparent assassination attempt. In the attack a total of thirteen were wounded and six died. Loughner plead not guilty in March, and his competency to with stand trial is still being decided.

Even her survival is miraculous after taking a near point blank shot to the head. Sadly due to her injuries she has lost about half of her vision, needs a cane to walk, and her ability so speak has been slowed. Clearly a fighter, she is someone Americans can look up to for striving to succeed and survive.

Repercussions of Scottish Independence

Earlier this month we brought you a story about the Scottish seeking independence from Britain. It's time now to take a more in depth look at some repercussions that such a move would have for the rest of Great Britain.

1) Loss of resources. Scotland contains ninety percent of the oil and natural gas of the United Kingdom. And is roughly half of it's land mass.

2) It would possibly cost the UK their permanent place as part of the United Nations Security Council. One that has already been argued to be taken away from them as it is, since the council was designed off the world power stage of 1945. They would be likely to be replaced by an economic power such as Germany or Japan.

3) The UK bases their nuclear weapons in Scotland, so any independence would mean that England would have to find a new home for it's weapon systems and nuclear submarines. Especially as the Scottish National Party has declared that an independent Scotland would have no part in nuclear weaponry. Unfortunately for England, they do not have a port that is as perfect as Faslane for such a base. And creating one would be rather expensive. In fact England might not be able to come up with such a home for them.

4) Great Britain would also lose any troops that are from Scotland. Cutting their military numbers, and making them less able to continue their place in the world.

5) Differences in foreign policy may create tensions between the two countries. In the past Scotland has only once made it's own policy, but it has argued to do so on other occasions as well.

The Scottish National Party has announced the referendum for independence will be held in the autumn of 2014, on the seven hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, depicted at the end of the movie Braveheart, where Scottish forces once won independence from England. Until that time many issues will be discussed by both the Scottish and British parliaments. Both sides will bring about the best or worst parts of such a decision. The Scottish people will likely never have such an important vote.

Atlanta Paper Calls for Assassination of Obama

Andrew Adler, the owner and publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times wrote an op ed piece on what Israel should be doing. In it he called for Israel to send Mossad agents to terminate the life of the unfriendly president. Not only did he state it once in his article, but then reiterated it to be sure he was taken clearly and seriously. He has issued an apology, but is that good enough?

The article listed three options for Israel to counter Iran’s nuclear weapons. The first is to launch a pre-emptive strike against Hamas and Hezbollah, the second is to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities and the third is to “give the go-ahead for U.S.-based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice president to take his place and forcefully dictate that the United States’ policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies. Yes, you read 'three correctly.' Order a hit on a president in order to preserve Israel’s existence. Think about it. If I have thought of this Tom-Clancy-type scenario, don’t you think that this almost unfathomable idea has been discussed in Israel’s most inner circles?”

No matter what your thoughts on President Barack Obama, this should piss you off. No American should ever actually call for the assassination of any American President. The very idea is wrong, immoral, repugnant, and illegal. If you or I did this we would at the very least be jailed while we were investigated for such statements. In fact, under the NDAA they wouldn't even have to do that, they can just detain us indefinitely as a terrorist. Making such a statement is treason, and in most countries would be treated as such. Mr. Adler is very lucky not to be in some deep dark place at this time.

Egypt Elects The Muslim Brotherhood

The elections in Egypt have come to a close with The Muslim Brotherhood, and it's ally the Justice Party combining, to take forty-seven percent of the seats in Parliament. The next mission for Parliament is to write a new constitution for the country. At the same time the people are still protesting against the military which has had power since President Hosni Mubarak was removed from office. Protestors are calling for mass rallies on January 25, the anniversary of the first one against Mubarak, to protest the military's control. The military has promised to surrender control of the country once a new president is elected in June.

International worries include the extent of the Egyptian military's power, but also focus on the extremist nature of the Brotherhood, which has already stated it would not abide by the peace treaty with Israel. With Iran already causing trouble in the Middle East, and turmoil in Syria, Yemen, and other countries; the area hardly needs another non peaceful government. Israel has already discussed that they are prepared for any eventuality in Syria, and it can be guaranteed they are preparing for any possibility with Egypt as well. Hopefully they will not have to worry and this new Egyptian government will change it's mind and stay peaceful.

Joe Paterno, Dead at 85

Joe Paterno, former head coach of Penn State, has died at the age of 85. In the forty-six years as head coach there the Nittany Lions finished ranked in the top twenty-five, thirty-five times; had five undefeated seasons; and two national titles. He holds the record for being the coach with most wins in his career. Sadly the last of his career was tainted with scandal and he was forced to retire. Given a few more weeks, he would've been forced to by his battle with lung cancer anyways.

“He died as he lived,” the family statement said. “He fought hard until the end, stayed positive, thought only of others and constantly reminded everyone of how blessed his life had been. His ambitions were far reaching, but he never believed he had to leave this Happy Valley to achieve them. He was a man devoted to his family, his university, his players and his community.” Paterno died "with a peaceful mind, comforted by his 'living legacy' of five kids, 17 grandchildren, and hundreds of young men whose lives he changed in more ways than can begin to be counted." They also asked that instead of flowers, people donate to Special Olympics of Pennsylvania or the Penn State-THON.

He was without a doubt, an enduring figure in college football, if not sports in general. His energy, excitement, and love for the game and his players will be missed. Joe Paterno deserves to be remembered for his whole life, not for his small part in the scandal. Hopefully that will be how he is. He one said, "What are coaches? Number one, we're teachers and we're educators. We have the same obligation as all teachers at our institutions, expect we probably have more influence over our young people than anyone other than their families."

Chemical Weapons For Syria

The United States has announced that it may close it's embassy in Damascus, if the Syrian government doesn't beef up security around it. Violence in Syria has been increasing through out the year as President Assad's regime is all the more beleaguered by protestors, civil war, and defections. Only the trouble causing state of Iran, Russia, and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah have backed his government.

Meanwhile Turkey has announced that they have seized yet another arms shipment from Iran, that was trying to enter Syria. This one however, contained chemical weapons and weapon systems. The United Nations has involved itself in this find. Such a discovery is only likely to bring more isolation upon both Iran and Syria. That Syria may have been considering using such weapons shows the truly desperate mindset of the regime. Bashar al-Assad's days as President are numbered. There is no way he can ever regain control. All that is left to him is to go into hiding or face death at the hands of the Syrian people who have seen too many killed over the last year's protests.

The Arab League has now decided that they will continue the mission of their observers for another month, despite the Syrian opposition now asking that it be turned over to the UN Security Council. An Arab League spokesman said that they wished to handle inside the Arab world. As they talk the violence continues, and deaths are added to the total, that is nearing ten thousand.