Archive for October, 2017

Illegal Raids in Venezuela of the alleged Opposition

Illegal home raids have increased drastically in Venezuela during 2017. While demonstrations in the nation were at there peak, there were at least 47 illegal raids reported between the months of April and July of this year. The victims of these raids were people that were thought to support the opposition, and they would be threatened and physically attacked. Victims reported that “security forces and armed men, believed to be members of government-sponsored illegal armed groups” invaded and damaged their homes, harassed them, and often stole their things. These illegal raids carried out by the Maduro Regime continue to show their dissent into chaos. The people no longer have no faith in the protection forces when they are the groups that are carrying out illegal raids. There seems to be a complete lack of civil protection. By continuing the condemnation of the oppression rather than investigating these raids is obvious that police forces are just another government agency that has been corrupted by Maduro. While human rights agencies are speaking out against the raids and general oppression in Venezuela, nothing has yet to be done within the nation to better these circumstances.



Terror warning for Christmas season

Christmas Markets are one of the most popular seasonal family activities in Europe, with millions of Britons and Europeans visiting the biggest ever year. Sadly the markets have become a target for terrorism, with the Berlin terror attack at the Christmas Market in December 2016, killing 12 and injuring 56 people. This is a real world scenario for area’s in Europe that hold Christmas festivals such as these. Now that terrorists focus primarily on soft targets such as these, police forces have to be able to protect their citizens from potential attacks. Law enforcement will strengthen these areas with armed officers throughout the market along with concrete barricades. This will ward off the idea of ramming citizens with vehicles making this a safer environment than festivals before.  In an event that has already happened an app has been created to direct people away from high risk areas and towards areas that are under police officer control.





Lake Algae

Toxic algae blooms have developed along western and central parts of Lake Erie, prompting local citizens to formulate a class action lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency believing the agency has insufficiently responded to the problem. Vocal groups want the EPA to declare under the Clean Water Act that the western coastline of Lake Erie has become impaired by the algae since water and fish can no longer be consumed. A declaration of impairment would enforce stricter controls on pollution. The algae have been originating from forms of pollution like farm fertilizer runoff and sewage overflows. President Trump never should have appointed Scott Pruitt as director of the agency given his historical vested interests in fossil fuels industry. A stepping down or new appointment would be necessary if this problem and other environmental problems continued to be ignored.



New Chinese Drone Designed to Resupply Disputed Islands

Summary: A new drone aircraft has been completed utilizing a converted light passenger aircraft. It has a range of 2,000 kilometers, a payload of 1.5 tonnes, and can land on an unpaved 200 meter runway. This drone, called the AT200 was designed for the purpose of resupplying the many disputed islands (many of them man-made) garrisoned with Chinese forces in the South China Sea. The designers are upfront about the intended purpose, “This drone has astonishing capabilities for military transport … [and it] will play an important role in securing military supplies for islands and islets in the South China Sea…” This is an important development, as currently many of these islands cannot accommodate runways, airfields, or heavy aircraft, and are reliant on being resupplied via ships. An airdrop capability is also planned for future models. The completion of this project comes at a time when other attempts to strengthen the position of these island garrisons are underway, such planned nuclear power plants and the recent establishment of a maritime rescue squadron.

Analysis: This development is consistent with Chinese regional policy. Much work over the few years these island bases have been operational has been put into making them defensible and suppliable. By working to remove the requirement of resupply from the Chinese navy, they gain operational flexibility throughout the region. All Chinese attempts to militarize these islands and improve their infrastructure, security, and sustainability should be viewed as trying to make them effective deterrents against effective opposition to their SCS claims, and significant and costly roadbumps in any military campaign, should regional hostilities break out over the issue.


AWOL U.S. Trained Afghan Soldiers

Thirteen percent Afghanistan soldiers trained in the US went awol last year according to a report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction(Foreign Policy). A total of 152 Afghan soldiers have gone awol since 2005. This does not reflect the number of Afghan soldiers who have gone missing within the country itself. Although a major concern seems to be that the US is providing training to potential terrorists, advisors believe that most of the awol soldiers that are being trained within the US are fleeing because of threats being made to their families at home by the Taliban. Regardless of the reasons for the awol soldiers, it is clear that problem exists in understanding the motives for Afghan men to join the training program. Some believe the soldiers are joining simple out of a need for income to support their families as would be the case for many soldiers here in the US also. One of the main differences in this motive lies in the opinion of the soldier towards the government itself. Here in the US most feel that the US military is fighting for a “good cause” and for democratic values. The same can’t be said for Afghan soldiers who aren’t clear on who is the legitimate authority in Afghanistan and who is providing protection to the population. These soldiers are likely to fall victim a number of situations that could cause them to go missing. The US efforts to train the soldiers is not enough to bring stability to Afghanistan. The country needs to be built up along side of an understanding of the local populations needs.



Iraqi Kurdish Leader Steps Down


After the contentious independence referendum, the Iraqi Kurdish president Masoud Barzani steps down. On Sunday, the leader told a parliamentary sitting in Erbil that he would not re-contest the presidency and has asked for his powers to be dispersed. This decision came 6 weeks after the poll where 93% voted yes to independence but then immediately prompted recriminations for other states. Barzani has said that his position would become vacant on November 1st.


This affects Iraq as the new leader of the Kurd’s may not be a good fit. The new leader could potentially be less cooperative and be harder to work with. This will create more issues in Iraq and other states such as the United States may have to get even more involved than they already are.



UN Investigation Says Assad Regime Responsible for Sarin Gas Attack

On 4 April of this year, a gas attack was launched against Syrian civilians in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, a town in Idlib province which killed at least 90 people, including many children. The UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have determined that the Assad regime was responsible for the attack, but the Syrian government continues to deny the claims. After at least one previous gas attack in 2013 the Syrian government attested that they had gotten rid of all of its chemical weapons in compliance with the international laws of war.  Russia and Iran are allied with the Assad regime and Russia has used its UN Security Council veto power to stop further investigations into the attack and continues to shelter the Assad government.

From a security standpoint it is disconcerting that not only does the Syrian government appear to still have chemical weapons that are outlawed but that the Assad regime is more than willing to continue to use them–even on his own people. Russia continues to turn a blind eye and protect the Assad regime. With the country practically in tatters after long years of civil war and other states scrambling to grab what they can of the spoils–oil rich areas, strategic border control, etc. Syria continues to be a threat to the region. After it was discovered that Assad gassed his own people the Trump administraton delivered a heavy-handed response of 59 Tomahawk missiles on a Syrian airbase in retaliation–the only time the U.S. has intervened militarily during the crisis.


Mexican Border Wall Prototypes

This week’s article detailed the finished border wall prototypes President Trump has called to be built by different companies, all competing to have their ‘wall ideas’  used for the finished product. All the prototypes are built on the San Diego Mexico border, ranging from 18-30 feet tall. These projects are due to Trump’s executive order instructing the Customs and Border Protection to build a 650 mile wall along the southern border of the U.S. The CBP laid out specific requirements that all walls had to include ‘anti-climb measures’ and should be at least 6 feet deep to avoid illegal immigrants from trying to dig tunnels under the wall. However, even with the blatant message as a deterrent the wall possess, many who are in favor of the border wall choose to argue its symbolic potential as the most effective part of the project.. However, even with the advanced technology of the border apparatus, there is still concern with the wall’s success rate given that people crossing the border will most likely find alternative ways or locations to cross even with a wall present. This is especially true for the war on drugs, because even with heightened security, drug lords are thinking of innovative routes to get drugs through the border which has prompted the evolution of synthetic drugs and its  deadly prevalence in the U.S. What stands as most import at the moment though for the CBP is how well these new prototypes and their anti-climb, anti-breach, and anti-dig capabilities hold up in the coming months. The Trump administration has claimed that the need for a Mexican border wall is a top priority even with the trillion dollar budget associated with it as Mexico has said on record several times, they will in no circumstances pay for the wall. What is missing throughout this argument though is that even with President Trump’s push for a wall and more border agents, there is neglect on equipping the Mexican border patrols with necessary tools and mechanisms because the wall is merely a buffer and not a solution to the problem.


So Nimitz, Reagan, and Teddy Roosevelt walk into a bar in Korea

In this week’s installment of the world’s longest and certainly the most dangerous staring contest, the U.S. has moved three carriers into the Pacific, the first time since 2007. The movement of these assets is said to be, in the words of General Joseph Dunford, coincidental. Many see this as a move of showing solidarity with East Asian allies and as a show of force against China and North Korea ahead of President Trump’s fast approaching overseas tour of Asia.

The presence of the U.S.S Nimitz, Reagan, and Theodore Roosevelt have recently raised the fear of the Trump administration launching a first strike against the rogue Kim regime in an effort to denuclearize North Korea or the unspoken goal of regime change. This is understandable as President Trump’s fiery rhetoric at times could possibly lead you to this conclusion. This tour of Asia, depending on the person, could be seen as a rallying cry for solidarity in peace as Trump’s tour through the Middle East and Europe appeared to be, or it could be a rallying cry for solidarity in bringing an end to the Peninsular Pinochet.


CIA and FBI Withhold JFK Assassination Documents

It has been promised for 25 years that the general public will see the final, and potentially most sensitive, records related to President John F. Kennedy’s assassination this past week. Then, late Thursday President Trump decided that the CIA and FBI will withhold tens of thousands of the files. For historians, journalists and Kennedy buffs, the promise of revelations about what happened to JFK disappeared. Although the National Archives and Records Administration did release 2,800 records online, around 30,000 more remain concealed to the public. On Friday, WikiLeaks offered $100,000 for the still withheld documents. The founder of WikiLeaks wrote on Twitter, “Why did U.S. intelligence agencies fail to meet the legal deadline they had 25 YEARS NOTICE OF for the release of all remaining JFK files by today?” The only reasonable explanation for the retraction of the promised release of the documents is that some of that information may be a threat to national security. With that being said, if it is legally binding that the CIA and FBI release those documents, they must release them. The situation puts the agencies in a tough position, only if the information being withheld is pertinent to national security. Otherwise, there is no excuse for the FBI and CIA to not release the documents.


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