Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Is war with Iran imminent?


       Iran has been belligerent and disingenuous in its compliance with its nuclear ambitions. Its president has repeatedly made contentous statements about the United States and Israel, once calling the nation 'a stinking corpse' and even denying the Holocaust. However, not many remember that in 1953 the U.S. government with the assistance of Britain organized a coup against the democratically Iranian government Mohammed Mossaedgh and installed a dictatorship. Also that the nuclear program of Iran was launched in the 1950's with help of the United States as part of the Atoms for Peace program. This support discontinued after the Islamic revolution toppled the Shah (U.S. installed dictator) in 1979. This chain of events eventually leads to 'supreme leader' Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president. 
                Maybe the U.S. should be worried about Iran's nuclear ambitions,maybe they want revenge?  Isarel definately has the right to be worried after Ahmadinejad threatens to 'wipe Israel off the map', but, Gulf Arab states are also worried. Many of the gulf monarchies are seriously woried that the Iranian conflict will lead to an armed conflict and increased the number of their joint military meetings. Prime Minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu has stated that he would leave all options on the table in dealing with Iran and so has the U.S.. Just recently satellite photos were released of two locations showing that Iran indeed may be hidding its nuclear facilities. One allegedly shows a hidden uraniam enrichment plant and the other seems to show a heavy water facility used to make plutonium, some say that the two sites together could be capable of creating atomic bombs. A day or two later, Iran test fires two long range missles capable of carrying war heads and reaching Israel, Gulf Arab States, Europe and U.S. military bases in the Middle East. All this coming before top U.S., China, Russia and European officials sit with Iranian officials on Thursday.
              These talks would be the first face-to-face talks with the U.S. and Iran in 30 years. So will anything contructive come out of these talks? Many say no, that at best they will lead to more talks, and president Obama has said that if the talks lead to no agreement, the U.S. will push for new sanctions aginst Iran. The Iranian regime has not been persuaded by the threat of sanctions before so why would they be now? Sanctions in my opinion would only hurt the Iranian people, most of whom do not support the current regime. On Monday, Israeli media reported that Netanyahu secretly visited Russia. The Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper alledges that Netanyahu's visit was to discuss new weapons deals between Russia and Iran, the paper also quoted an 'informed Israeli source' who requested to be anonymous as saying, "Such a visit could be related to new information and could threaten the Iranian nuclear program. It should not be ruled out that Israel may be ready to move on to decisive actions with regards to Iran, and Netanyahu has decided to inform the Kremlin of this."
             Does all this and more mean that war with Iran is immminent? I definitely hope not. The turbulent region does not need another war.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Race and the media in America



        Race has always been a tempestuous topic for Americans, and people worldwide for that matter. America has made great strides in race relations, we even have a black president. Something no one saw coming. America seemed to begin to move beyond just seeing race. Recently, there has been alot of coverage in the media of racism or racist comments. A pundit 'analyzing' Congressman Wilson's outburst said that it would not happen if it were a white president. Rush Limbaugh commenting on an incident where a white student was beaten by black students said that things like that happen only in Obama's America. During a march on Washington on September 12th, thousands protested against the presidents plan to overhaul the Health Care System. Many simply were against 'expansion of the government,' but there were a few on the fringes with expilcitly racist views. Those few dominated the coverage the event. When someone criticizes the president they have to be careful with their choice of words because the media pounces on the slightest hint of race. Not that it may be exactly newsworthy, but, sensationalism seems more important nowadays. I am not saying that there is no racism in this country just that we should take criticism for what it is and not jump the gun so many times. When a real case of racism comes up it will not get the attention it deserves.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Honoring a Fallen Hero


         Sgt 1st Class Jared C. Monti was awarded the first medal of honor of the Obama Administration posthumously today. The honor was awarded for 'conspicuous gallantry and intreptivity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty'. Accepting on his behalf were his parents, no doubt proud of their son's achievment, but,  still would rather have him back.  
              Leading a small 16 man patrol, Sgt Monti and his comrades were attacked by about 50 taliban fighters when private Brian Bradbery was badly injured and unable to move. Bullets flying, he made a first attempt to save his comrade, never one to give up he tried again, but enemy fire got more intense, he stoped to call for help before trying one more time. This time he was hit with a fatal wound. Monti knew he was dying, he said the lords prayer and said 'tell my family I love them.' His bravery inspired the troops and they beat back the enemy. although he fought  hard to save Bradbery, as he and a medic were being raised up in the air the cable snapped and they both died.
                   Three years after his death this deserving man who lost his life trying to save another now gets awarded the highest honor of military declaration. When debating about whether we should stay, leave send more troops or train the police in Afganistan, I hope the sacrifices of men like Sgt 1st Class Jared C. Monti will not be forgotten and will not be in vain.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Banks at it again?



            Today, the one year anniversary of  the Lehman Brothers clollapse which set off a wave of panic in the financial industry. In Hong Hong protesters are outside of banks who sold them financial products by Lehman Brothers and say they want their money back. The Government let Lehman fail but stil poured hundreds of billions of tax payer money into the financial industry with a catch ofcourse. Limits were placed on how banks operate; how many times they could leverage their bets, how much companies could be paid. A year after and MorganStanely, JPMorganChase and GoldmanSachs have repaid their bailouts and are free from Governtment restraints to a degree. Risk taking is back, but some say risk can inspire confidence and allows capital markets to function normally. Nonetheless, a push for profits can lead to excessive risk taking
        JPMorganCHace, MorganStanely, GoldmanSachs and other are now regaining their appetite for risk, betting lavishly on bonds, commodities and exotic financial products. Wall street is repeating the cycle that lead the banking system into chaos. Banks may not be the ultimate culprit but government's response to spend whatever it took to protect the financial system from collapse may also be a factor, this precedent may encourage even greater risk taking from the private sector. Many Americans were troubled by this, asking, where's my bailout? 
     In a speech today, President Obama says that, "the storms of the past two years are begining to break," and, "we will not go back to the days of reckless behaviour and unchecked excess that was at the heart of this crisis." Regulation of the financial industry will not be easy. With all the bailouts and talk of a government run health care program many feel like the government has gotten way too big. Conveniently, companies who begged the Government for 'bailouts' are now saying they do not want the Government medling in their affairs. Congressman Ron Paul has proposed a bill to audit the Federal Reserve; he says they are the source of the problem.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fired Up? Ready to Go?

   Today, I attended the 'Health Insurance Reform Now' bus tour in Orlando; part of a fifty state push for President Obama's Health Care Reform Plan. Speakers included Organizing for America director Mitch Stewart, Ashley Walker; Florida State Director of Organizing for America, Rep. Alan Grayson (D), a registered nurse, a small business owner, and a sculptor/activist. The 'Health Insurance Reform Now' bus tour started June 6 th and has had 14, 000 events so far. Next the bus heads to Tampa and wraps up in Vegas next Thursday.
         I expected a small number of people because of the not exactly stellar weather conditions, but, about or over 200 people showed up. Local news stations Wesh 2 News and Local 6 covered the event as well as local affiliates of ABC and Fox News. There were no Health Insurance Reform opponent protesters. Attendees were excited and observant to the speakers, getting rilled up when the chants 'fired up, ready to go' and 'what do we want-health care, when do we want it-now' were started. Other trigger words or phrases were 'push back on lies and misuniformation', 'pre-existing conditions', 'start over on Health Care Reform', 'lower premiums/costs' and of course 'public option'. When a public option was mentioned, for some reason I expected a luke warm reception, but, to my surprise it accounted for the loudest applause. As with audiences of then presidential hopeful Sen. Obama, the crowd was a diverse bunch.