Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Balance of Freedom

Most people want to be free. They definitely say they do. They're quick to give their opinions on how they want to be too. Some want it by simply being left alone, others by being given everything so they don't have to worry about anything. Somewhere in there is an extremely key balance. Somewhere between anarchy and totalitarianism is the answer.

The writers of the Constitution did their best to write it so that it would establish the balance. A democratic republic, where the citizens would have rights that protected them from the government. It was designed to keep the government controlled by not just the people, but the rule of law, so that anarchy would not be able to take over.

Ever since people have done their best to tear at the balance, to get it to fall to their world view. And unfortunately they've been all too successful in making it teeter towards tyranny. The government now has way too much power. It no longer worries about whether it's actually helping it's citizens, if it is doing their will, or even if it is actually following the Constitution. Government simply does things to grow it's own power.

For some the status quo is great. Others think we need more government, more control. To some the answer is to tear it all down, start over, as if a country has a reset button; and they wish to remake it with a government that has no power at all. Others think that simply changing the party which holds office, but not changing the mindset that is there will be the solution. And others wish to make us freer in some ways, but tyrannize other parts of our lives, or that of our neighbors. Very few wish to get us back on the track that the forefathers set, the one of the Constitution.

The storm clouds are coming. The time to decide and act are near. Do you support freedom? Do you support the balance of the Constitution? Do you stand for what this country was founded on?

How Quickly We Forget - Placing National Security on the Back Burner

Recently, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) unveiled its annual Budget and Economic Outlook report which projected that the federal deficit will exceed $1 trillion for the fourth year consecutively. In other news, CPAC succeeded in re-energizing the base and the 2012 election is escalating in intensity.

At the same time, other issues exist which have received minimal media attention, but which are no less important than the above mentioned. While we continue to monitor our massive debt, constitutional overreach and election coverage, we would be remiss in not acknowledging current threats to national security.

One such threat is documented in an article by Seth Jones, writing for Foreign Affairs. Jones highlights the disquieting relationship between al Qaeda and Iran - one which has the potential to significantly impact the U.S. Though Hezbollah has operated as an Iranian proxy for some time, now Iran is working with al Qaeda, as well, and is providing the group with a safe haven, out of reach of U.S. drones. Iran is also facilitating al Qaeda fundraising, communications with al Qaeda in Pakistan and the movement of foreign fighters through Iran. Jones suggests that Iran is amenable to further developing the relationship with al Qaeda.

Jones goes on to emphasize the fact that Tehran “could support an al Qaeda attack against the United States or one of its allies, although the regime would surely attempt to hide its role in any plotting.”  Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, believes that an attack by Iran against the U.S. could occur in response to a perceived threat of an attack by the U.S. on Iran.

But, as Van Hipp indicates in a Fox News article, there are also threats which have been ongoing. In addition to citing Iran’s nuclear program and the fact that it is progressing to the point at which even a bunker buster may not be able to subdue it and its increasing missile launch capability, Hipp also directs our attention to China and North Korea.

The alignment between Iran and North Korea has been in place since the early ‘80s. Iran assisted North Korea with funding for its missile development and now North Korea has reportedly developed enough fissile material for at least six plutonium based nuclear weapons in addition to the Taepodong missile.

The Chinese, on the other hand, have been focusing primarily on cyber warfare. The Pentagon, other U.S. government agencies and defense and security companies, in the U.S., have been barraged by China’s cyber offensive. 

Then too, Hezbollah continues their industrious spread throughout the world. They are now active in 40 countries - including right across the border in Mexico. According to Michael Braun, former chief of operations at the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), “Hezbollah are absolute masters at forming close relationships with existing organized crime groups around the world that helps them facilitate what they need to do to move their agendas forward.” Braun went on to emphasize that “if anyone thinks for a moment that they don’t have their eye on the southwest border and all of our country, then they couldn’t be more wrong.”
Braun warned that these liaisons allow the "groups to operate freely in our neighborhood” and he stressed that the U.S. would regret it if the threats were not taken seriously.

It has been noted that Hezbollah’s agenda is the same as that of al-Qaeda. Both embrace the goal of destroying the United States. Both are also intent on reducing Western resistance to the spread of radical Islam.
It is estimated that Hezbollah is made up of 10,000 armed members, world-wide. Hezbollah’s network includes cells throughout Latin America and Central America. And, not only are they also active right across the open border in Mexico, but they also have cells within the U.S. Under any circumstances, sustaining an attack by Hezbollah could be catastrophic. It should, then, go without saying that with reduced U.S. military strength, due to the gutting of the Pentagon budget, the potential exists for far more devastation.

There have been reports of terrorists crossing the U.S./Mexican border, one of which occurred in November of 2010. Ahmed Muhammad was indicted for allegedly aiding and abetting hundreds of people’s entry into the U.S. via Brazil to Mexico and then on to the U.S. Even in view of these events and of 9/11, there are those who vehemently support an open border.

And, U.S. authorities continue to pursue of individuals, found within the U.S., who aid and abet terrorists.  Recently, Craig Benedict Baxam, age 24, and a resident of Laurel, Maryland was charged with attempting to provide material support to al Shabaab, a terrorist group based in Somalia.  The affidavit supporting the complaint states that Baxam joined the U.S. Army in 2007 and completed eight months of training in cryptology and intelligence.  Following
deployment to Iraq, he reenlisted in the Army. A month prior to a deployment to Korea, Baxam separated from the Army and returned to Maryland.

Federal prosecutor, W. Anders Folk has affirmed that that al Shabaab’s power-seizing animus is not limited to Somalia. Despite claims that al Shabaab is too small to present a problem to the U.S., Folk points out that many people were similarly persuaded regarding al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. But, as of Christmas, 2009, when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted a suicide bombing on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, estimations of al Shabaab’s potential have changed.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul area, for all practical purposes, functions as command central for al Shabaab operations in the U.S. According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, al Shabaab in the area routinely travel back to Somalia for training. Recruitment efforts include using Internet videos, with the purpose of glamorizing the movement. While jubilant in the deaths of martyrs and striving for jihad, they excoriate their enemies in Somalia and the West.

Similarly, another African-based terrorist group, Boko Haram, according to a report by the U.S. Representatives Subcommittee on Counter-Terrorism and Intelligence, has quickly evolved and poses an emerging threat to the U.S. The report reveals that Boko Haram "has the intent and may be developing capability to coordinate on a rhetorical and operational level" with al Qaeda. The report emphasizes that heed should be taken in view of the group’s rapid progression. And, it has been an unusually swift progression.

Another looming concern is that of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Clapper has said that the spread of WMD is “among our top concerns” because "the time when only a few states had access to the most dangerous technologies is past." He added that chemical and biological components "move easily in our globalized economy, as do the personnel with scientific expertise to design and use them.”
In addition to that, technology has advanced to a level at which biological weapons can be created by using the latest advances in synthetic biology. This process, which was originally about reading DNA is now about both reading and writing DNA.

With the genesis of synthetic biology, ultimately terrorists will not be limited to mass attacks with biological weapons. They will also be able to target specific individuals based on those individuals' own unique DNA.

James Clapper also indicated that advances in information technology have paved the way for mass-scale data collection by China, Russia and various non-governmental entities.

Terrorist groups, in particular, have made use of social media to further their goals. The New Internet explains that on Twitter, for example, terrorists and jihadists can distribute content quickly and to a vast amount of people. Particular innovations in technology – such as encryption software and cloud computing – enable them to store and disseminate material online, while disguising their activity.

UK Home Secretary, Theresa May, affirms that “terrorists are increasingly using online technology, including Google Earth and Street View, for planning attacks. While radicalization continues to be primarily a social process, terrorists are making more use of new technologies to communicate their propaganda.”

The Taliban has two official Twitter accounts: Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and Abdulqahar Balkhi.

In the midst of all of this, the Obama administration laid out a total of $489 billion in defense cuts over ten years and acknowledged that the United States would no longer be able to fight two regional conflicts simultaneously.

A potential $500-600 billion in cuts, in addition to that, as a result of the Super Committee's failure, could yield disastrous consequences for the U.S. in terms of national security.

Van Hipp wrote in his article that "if these additional cuts go through, I doubt seriously whether the United States would be able to fight even one MRC successfully."

We, as a country, need to be able to focus on more than two or three issues at a time. To not do so could seal the fate of thousands of U.S.citizens--again.

Explosions in Bangkok

Explosions rocked Bangkok last night, as three Iranian men who were building bombs, apparently managed to blow up one of them in their own house. They fled the scene, one has so far escaped custody, one of the others was arrested at the airport trying to leave the country.

The third man, injured in the first blast, attempted to take a taxi to the hospital. When the driver refused to take him, he threw a bomb under the taxi, injuring the driver and three bystanders. Later confronted by police, he attempted to throw another bomb at them, but only succeeded in blowing his own legs off. He was then taken to the hospital under police custody.

At the home, police found yet another explosive device, but were able to diffuse it. The home was only four blocks from the Israeli embassy and nearby a Jewish community center. The events in Thailand would seem to add weight to Israel's accusations that Iran was responsible for yesterday's attacks on Israeli Embassy Staff.

Epidemic in Central America

A mysterious disease is killing off sugar cane workers in Central America. Thousands of workers have been dying from unexplainable kidney failure. It is not contained to one area, or even one country, but stretches from southern Mexico all the way down to Panama.

Some, especially environmental activists, are trying to blame the illness on pesticides. Nothing however backs their theory, especially the wide spread area that is being effected. Doctors, however, say that something else is to blame.

The workers often start at ages as young as ten. Working practically nonstop for nine hours, forcing their bodies into dehydration. The effects of constant dehydration, and fatigue would damage the liver and other organs.

To protect against this, many companies have begun supplying water, sometimes even with added electrolytes, for the workers. But for all too many it is too late an action. And many workers still refuse to believe that a simple thing such as drinking water, could save their lives.

FDA vs. Fresh Milk

Rainbow Acres organic Amish farm, in Pennsylvania, will be closing down after the Food and Drug Administration won it's suit against the farm over fresh milk. The FDA went after the farm stating, "that interstate sale of raw milk for human consumption is illegal.

According to the FDA milk that has not been pasteurized is too likely to carry diseases such as typhoid fever and diphtheria. Because of this they were backed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The judge in the case ruled that if the farm was caught selling across state lines again, that he would fine them for the cost of the investigation, as well as court fees. The owner of the farm, which also sells eggs, honey, butter, and other organic foods; has decided to simply shut down his farm, instead of enduring continued harassment from the FDA.