East Meets West: The Struggle for Peace and Compromise

Iraqi insurgents wave their flag. Courtesy of CNN.com

As the world seems to head into a downward spiral of blaming and shaming, the United States struggles to keep its grip on the rest of the world and hold on to the power and respect it may of once had. No one event can be pinpointed in its illustrious and not soon forgotten contemptible past as many countries if not all have committed crimes against their own people including these so called superpowers. As of lately though, the POTUS seems to be dealing with many volatile situation involving our not so friendly sometimes outright hostile neighbors from across the sea even the world. The conflicts of Syria, Ukraine, North Korea, Iraq and Russia are just a few that have made headlines in the past year, however this article will only discuss the most recent conflicts and the involvement. whether warranted or not, of the United States, U.N. and other so called aggressors. This year alone, Obama and let’s not forget a lackadaisical Congress have had to determine whether these crises and conflicts warrant the attention of the military or require a more gentle hand  in order to prevent a much bigger catastrophe some call a war. With increasing tension around the world between neighboring countries, it is more important than ever for not just the United States but the world to take note that the solutions are many and war should not be the first. Of course, these problems are not all rooted in this presidency but left overs from decades long ago.

Iraq Conflict: Sunni Militants Capture Northern Iraqi Town, Hamza Hendawi and Qassim Abdul-Zahra explains the deepening Iraqi crisis has lead to an all out war between the Shiite militias and the Sunni insurgency across the country according to officials. Iran has decided to help the Iraqi government fight against the insurgency which is something unheard just a few weeks ago and with this the United States has decided to help as well. The United States will deploy 275 military troops to protect the U.S. Embassy and other American interests, however the White House insists that no more combat troops would be sent. The insurgents has seized the strategic city of Tal Afar never the Syrian border as part of its goal to link both sides of the Iraq and Syrian frontier. According to Iraqi officials, Tehran’s Quds Force commander, Iranian General Ghasem Soleimani, has been advising in Iraq on how to push back the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an al-Qaida breakaway group. The U.S. has been notified of his presence, but his presence in Iraq has led to Sunni suspicions about the Shiite led government’s close ties to Tehran, according to the Associate Press. Since the U.S. troops left in 2011, the Islamic State has vowed to march to Baghdad, Karbala and Najaf threatening the stability of Iraq. The Friday before this article was published, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, orginally from Iran, call on the people to defend the holy shrines. The call to arms has lead to armed Shiite militiamen parading on the streets and volunteers joining the security forces chanting Shiite religious slogans. This new mobilization has lead to further allegations of a sectarian slant adding to increased tensions before and after the incursions of this last week with thousands killed since late last year. Soleimani, a powerful figure in Iran’s security establishment, and his Quds Force a secretive branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard were also involved in the mid 2000s with organizing Shiite militias against U.S. troops in Iraq and more recently involved in helping Syrian President Bashar Assad against Sunni rebels, according to U.S. officials. His visit and subsequent training of the Shiite militias by his Quds Force means Iran could take a role similar to the one it played in Syria which has been crucial to the survival of Assad.

Sequestration 2013: When will it end?

Sequestration 2013: With Cuts In Place, Obama And GOP Brace For Next Fight.
To all my readers, I find it important for everyone to inform themselves about the actual sequester with an official document sent to Congress  as a direct result of Congress and the President’s inability to reach a decision to avoid the sequester that has now gone into effect on March 1. There is a lot of misinformation going around through various groups so I decided that the actual facts might be nice, then let you the reader decide what is truth. Since both parties the President and Congress refuse to come to a decision on Saturday to avoid sequester, we as a country now face the consequences through automatic spending cuts of $85 billion. Even with last minutes talks and no deal, the sequester which is outline in the official document below has gone into effect with the stroke of Obama’s pen. There are no signs that either group will budge as the Republican refuse any deal with more taxes and Democrats will not do a deal without it. Both parties lay the blame on the other for damages the cuts might inflict which are across the board.  In the words of Obama on his weekly radio and internet address, “None of this is necessary…It’s happening because Republicans in Congress chose this outcome over closing a single wasteful tax loophole that helps reduce the deficit.” The president also commented that the cuts will cause ripples across the economy the longer they stay in place and could cost more than 750,000 jobs not to mention disrupt the lives of middle class families. The next major battle for both will be to negotiate a plan to fund the government beyond March 27 or possibly face a government shutdown and another debt ceiling clash in May.

OMB REPORT TO THE CONGRESS ON THE JOINT COMMITTEE SEQUESTRATION FOR FISCAL YEAR 2013

Sequestration Nation: What March 1 Really Means for the Economy – DailyFinance

Sequestration Nation: What March 1 Really Means for the Economy – DailyFinance.

With many of the world’s nations falling into economic disrepair and fighting to stay afloat, the United States may come to the same fate come March 1. President Obama and congressional Republicans have no progress to head off the $85 billion in automatic budget cuts that go into effect on Mar 1. Lacking a bipartisan deal to avoid catastrophe and hoping to put pressure on the GOP lawmakers, the administration revealed details about the cuts’ consequences including less secure U.S. embassies, trimmed defense contracts, and furloughed air traffic controllers. When a budget fight between President Clinton and congressional Republicans led to two government shutdowns in 1995 and 1996, some threats came true and others did not only because private groups stepping in and contractors working for IOUs. The budget impasse eventually ended before serious damage happened.

This time no government shutdown will occur but automatic cuts between March 1 and September 30 will occur which means a reduction of 13 percent for defense and 9 percent for other programs according to the budget office. These cut and $1 trillion over the next decade were put into place two years ago when the administration and Congressional bargainers made them so harsh that everyone would be forced to compromise. This has not happened. According to the administration letters and testimony to Congress social security, Medicaid, Medicare, and veterans’ benefits are exempted. The cuts will be made over a seven month period and do not all take effect March 1. If a deal is reached anytime during this period the money could be restore either some or all. However left in effect the impact is not clear yet for each program. The law limits administration’s flexibility to protect initiatives, but the White House told agencies to avoid cutting those that present risk to life, safety or health and minimize harm to crucial services. Every agency will experience some effects from these budget cuts if they go into effect.

According to AOL Daily Finance these are the tentative cuts according to the administration letters and testimony to Congress:

-Defense: Troops at war would be protected, but there’d be fewer Air Force flying hours, less training for some Army units and cuts in naval forces. A $3 billion cut in the military’s Tricare health care system could diminish elective care for military families and retirees. And, in a warning to the private defense industry, the Pentagon said it would be “restructuring contracts to reduce their scope and cost.”

-Health: The National Institutes of Health would lose $1.6 billion, trimming cancer research and drying up funds for hundreds of other research projects. Health departments would give 424,000 fewer tests for the AIDS virus. More than 373,000 people may not receive mental health services.

-Food and agriculture: About 600,000 low-income pregnant women and new mothers would lose food aid and nutrition education. Meat inspectors could be furloughed up to 15 days, shutting meatpacking plants intermittently and costing up to $10 billion in production losses.

-Homeland Security: Fewer border agents and facilities for detained illegal immigrants. Reduced Coast Guard air and sea operations, furloughed Secret Service agents and weakened efforts against cyberthreats to computer networks. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund would lose more than $1 billion.

-Education: Seventy thousand Head Start pupils would be removed from the prekindergarten program. Layoffs of 10,000 teachers and thousands of other staffers because of cuts in federal dollars that state and local governments use for schools. Cuts for programs for disabled and other special-needs students.

-Transportation: Most of the Federal Aviation Administration’s 47,000 employees would face furloughs, including air traffic controllers, for an average of 11 days.

-Environment: Diminished Environmental Protection Agency monitoring of oil spills, air pollution and hazardous waste. The color-coded air quality forecasting system that keeps schoolchildren and others inside on bad-air days would be curtailed or eliminated. New models of cars and trucks could take longer to reach consumers because the EPA couldn’t quickly validate that they meet emissions standards.

-State Department: Slow security improvements at overseas facilities, cuts in economic aid in Afghanistan and malaria control in Africa.

-Internal Revenue Service: Furloughed workers would reduce the IRS’ ability to review returns, detect fraud and answer taxpayers’ questions. It offered no specifics.

-FBI: Furloughs and a hiring freeze would have the equivalent impact of cutting 2,285 employees, including 775 agents. Every FBI employee would be furloughed 14 workdays.

-Interior Department: Hours and service would be trimmed at all 398 national parks, and up to 128 wildlife refuges could be shuttered. Oil, gas and coal development on public lands and offshore waters would be diminished because the agency would be less able to issue permits, conduct environmental reviews and inspect facilities.

-Labor: More than 3.8 million people jobless for six months or longer could see their unemployment benefits reduced by as much as 9.4 percent. Thousands of veterans would lose job counseling. Fewer Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors could mean 1,200 fewer visits to work sites. One million fewer people would get help finding or preparing for new jobs.

-NASA: Nearly $900 million in cuts, including funds to help private companies build capsules to send astronauts to the International Space Station.

-Housing: The Department of Housing and Urban Development said about 125,000 poor households could lose benefits from the agency’s Housing Choice Voucher program and risk becoming homeless.

Sequester Cuts Could Force Army To Extend Afghanistan Tours, Deploy Insufficiently Trained Troops

Sequester Cuts Could Force Army To Extend Afghanistan Tours, Deploy Insufficiently Trained Troops.

With the world financial crisis taking its toll on our neighbors across the Atlantic, the United States is struggling to keep its own economy afloat and cutting back on the military is not the way to do it. The government does not pay the men the women of our country enough to ask them to do more for our country than the country does for them. The government h made too many promises it can’t keep and doing nothing to protect its citizen or for that matter the men and women who sacrifice their lives to protect the lives of other. On Friday, General Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff, said that soldiers deployed to Afghanistan next year may see their tours extended due to budget cuts that will limit training brigades to replace them. A number of combat brigades will deploy later this year and next year even as the war winds down for the U.S.

The Army right now is facing a shortfall of $8 billion in operation funding for Afghanistan, while an additional $5.4 billion in cuts if Congress cannot resolve the budget standoff and automatic reductions called a sequester goes into effect. On Friday Rep. Howard McKeon, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, said that the sequester will go into effect March 1 that triggers $46 billion in automatic cuts to the Pentagons budget through September. “I think it’s going to happen,” McKeon told reporters. “We have just not been able to get past the politics of it to really focus in on the devastating effects.”

This week, President Obama said he would cut the size of U.S. forces roughly in half by next year as their are currently 66,000 U.S. troops in the war zone meaning 34,000 will be withdrawn by next year. In 2007, the Army extended deployments from a year to 15 months to meet the demands of the Iraq war and then President Bush. When brigades returned home however, they were ordered to deploy again 12 month later leading many leaders to worry about the forces being strained to the breaking point. Over time, the Iraq war ended and the deployment times were scaled back to a year and most are nine month long. Right now the only units scheduled to deploy are the 4th Brigade and 3rd Infantry Division, based at Fort Stewart, Ga. later this spring, but the Army has not announced what units will go to Afghanistan later in the summer in fall.

Military Suicides Reached Record High In 2012

 Military Suicides Reached Record High In 2012.

US military suicides surged to 349 last year higher than American combat deaths in Afghanistan causing some experts to predict that it will get much worse this year. The causes range from anxiety over a shrinking force in the combat zone to severe strain on military personnel with over a decade of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. By no means are these the only reasons, the Pentagon has stressed the need to understand what causes active duty troops to take their own lives. The suicide figure exceeds the 295 Americans who died in Afghanistan last year and some in Congress are pressing the Pentagon to do more. “Now that we’re decreasing our troops and they’re coming back home, that’s when they’re really in the danger zone, when they’re transitioning back to their families, back to their communities and really finding a sense of purpose for themselves,” said Kim Ruocco, whose husband, Marine Maj. John Ruocco, killed himself between Iraq deployments in 2005. She directs a suicide prevention program for a support group, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS.

 

The problem is ongoing and the Pentagon has made suicide prevention a priority. David Rudd, a military suicide researcher and dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Utah, said he sees two main categories of troops who are committing suicide at an accelerating pace: Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffering from depression, post-traumatic stress or substance abuse, and those who have not gone to war but face troubled personal relationships, money problems or legal woes. He does not see a decline soon he actually is predicting an increase in military suicides.

 

It is sad but true. Not only our military, but U.S. civilians are committing suicide with no help from our government. The government needs to put the people not themselves first. The great amount of stress service personnel is under is more than anyone could understand but we can at least try. For what the government pays them to defend our country, the government could at least take an interest when they come home or offer services for them on the field. It is sad the decline of humanity in the world. The stresses for us at home just escalate a growing a problem for those who come home, so listen Obama and Congress get your ducks in a row and handle what you seem to be ignoring. The private interest seems to rule the roost instead of policies and spending that benefit the people.

Rare World War I Images Found Inside Antique Camera By Photographer Anton Orlov (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Rare World War I Images Found Inside Antique Camera By Photographer Anton Orlov (VIDEO, PHOTOS).

A photographer and blogger found rare WWI photos perfectly preserved in a camera he bought from an antique shop. The photos are a look back at history and show the ravaged countrysides of France during WWI. I love to this particular time period and quite frankly am jealous that I haven’t found something this special…yet.

AOL.com Video – Boy With Cancer, 10, Gets Surprise from Military Idols

AOL.com Video – Boy With Cancer, 10, Gets Surprise from Military Idols.

Another great moment to think about for the holidays. This boy is so cute as he watches on skype and then the big surprise is revealed. He not only gets to meet his idols but is made a honorary member. His dream came true. This should give everyone hope that anything is possible.