Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to put an end to Hamas’ military attacks on his country. Years of rocket fire on the Jewish state along with constant terrorist operations from Hamas have led Israel to this decisive point. Talks of a truce between Hamas and Israel only worsened the situation as Hamas rejected the idea of a cease-fire. Now Israel has deployed thousands of troops to infiltrate the terror network and asked more than 100,000 Palestinians to leave the area of conflict.
Air power is perhaps Israel’s strongest weapon against Hamas, but terror tactics have made the use of air strikes close to impossible without causing civilian casualties. Hamas takes advantage of its people and asks innocent civilians to stand on the rooftops of their buildings to prevent Israeli air strikes. The result has been a massive ground operation by Israel in which soldiers, tanks and marine assets have all descended upon the Gaza Strip. Underground tunnels used by Hamas to store weapons and move terrorists into the city are being destroyed by the overwhelming ground force.
Just today Delta airlines canceled all flights to Israel due to concerns of rocket fire and ground to air missile attacks. After diverting a flight from Israel to Paris, the airline claimed that it would not risk the lives of its passengers or crew and therefor will be cancelling all flights to Israel for the time being. As the conflict in Israel rages on, the death toll has reached about 550 Palestinians and 25 Israelis. Prime Minister Netanyahu has warned that calling off this operation before destroying Hamas’ terror network could pose a greater threat to Israel in the future.
While waging war against Hamas is a necessary action for stability in Israel, I can’t help but reflect on the U.S. war against Al Qaeda which resulted in more damage and resentment than it did resolution. So how can a country battle terrorism and actually win? I’m not sure if there is any way of achieving a victory against this type of enemy but at least Israel is fighting this battle in its own country and not abroad. My heart goes out to the innocent lives being lost in this confrontation and I hope that a peaceful resolution could be achieved. Thanks for stopping by everyone and feel free to leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts on this conflict.
Innocent Victims of Recent ISIS Attacks in Mosul, Iraq
Hundreds of Thousands of Citizens Fleeing the Cities Under Attack by ISIS
After more than a decade of war with Al Qaeda, the United States spent billions of dollars on training programs for Iraq’s police and military forces. The plan was to train Iraq’s own citizens to protect their people and enforce the rule of law so that the U.S. could remove all remaining troops from the country. High grade military equipment, expert training and greatly improved infrastructure now belong to Iraq’s military and police forces as a result of this initiative. However, as of last year, Al Qaeda has taken advantage of the U.S. decision to remove the majority of its troops and it has started attacking Iraq’s cities once again. Each day, more cities are being overrun by the terrorist group and Iraq’s newly trained military forces are failing to maintain control. In fact, most of Iraq’s newly trained forces are abandoning their posts and leaving behind all of the weapons, vehicles and other military equipment that the U.S. gave them to protect their citizens.
Mosul, Ramadi, Fallujah and Tikrit have all fallen to the Al Qaeda run group named ISIS (Islamic State for Iraq and Syria) and Baghdad appears to be the next city in their sights. Innocent people from these cities are desperately fleeing in search of safety from the violent military attacks. Meanwhile Al Qaeda is seizing all of the U.S. purchased military equipment and using those very weapons to retake the cities that they once controlled. It seems that the U.S. is experiencing déjà vu as this is not the first time that it supplies a Middle Eastern nation with weapons to later find that those very weapons are in its enemy’s hands. With better equipment and a greater influence than before, the rebel forces threaten to undue all of the progress made by the U.S. military over the past decade.
Talks between Iraq and the U.S. government are currently underway to respond to this urgent threat. Iraqi officials say that the rebel group has grown much stronger and if action is not taken soon then Baghdad could fall as early as this week. ISIS has used Syria’s current state of chaos to transform the country into a hub for religious radicalization. Revamped support for Al Qaeda’s values and improved weaponry from constant raids have given the group enough traction to once again take control of the region. Airstrikes are currently being considered by both governments as the threat of losing the entire country to Al Qaeda’s rule is on the verge of happening.
Trillions of U.S. tax payer dollars have not only gone to waste in the Middle East, but now also gone to the enemy that it’s been fighting for years. Frustration runs high throughout the country as failed military operations have taken a serious toll on the U.S. economy. As a citizen of the U.S I feel seriously disappointed in my political leaders for failing to accomplish anything with this war. With more than a decade of military occupation in Iraq, I could understand why their citizens support any form of U.S. resistance. How would we feel if another country occupied our land, threatened our safety and tried telling us how to live? My hope is that our troops will return home sooner than 2016 and that the U.S. government will put an end to this careless waste of our resources.
What do you think about the situation in Iraq? Do you think that the U.S. should pull all of its troops before the 2016 date or do you think that we should maintain a military presence as long as possible? Can we afford to continue fighting Al Qaeda or is it time that we cut our losses and leave the fate of Iraq to its own people? Leave a comment and let me know what your thoughts are on this situation. Thanks for stopping by.
Hacking. This may be the most misunderstood and complicated term that makes the news on a daily basis. Whenever I hear the word “hacker” I immediately imagine some petty thief sitting on his computer buying things online with my stolen credit card information. Surely I’m not the only person who has received a phone call from their bank asking them if they are aware of fraudulent charges on their account. I imagine that if this happened to you, that you were sent a new card in the mail a few days later and that the money was safely transferred back into your account later that day. But what happens when someone is able to hack more than just your money? What if they are able to hack into your life’s work and then use that information for their own benefit? Well, that actually wasn’t a question, it’s a fact. As of May 1st, 2014, five members of China’s military were indicted for corporate cyber-attacks.
This is the first time that individuals from a foreign government are being charged with cyber-crimes against major U.S. corporations. Sun Kailiang, Huang Zhenyu, Wen Xinyu, Wang Dong and Gu Chunhui are the five members from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of the Republic of China who were indicted for their cyber-crimes. The victims of their cyber-crimes include U.S. companies such as Westinghouse Electric Co, SolarWorld AG, United States Steal Corporation, Alcoa Inc., Allegheny Technologies Inc. and a workers union. The hackers not only stole valuable information about trade practices and procedures, but they also stole vital energy information. While conducting their cyber-attack, the criminals did everything from send false emails requesting secret information to downloading schematics for power-plant production. These expert hackers were able to gain access to nearly all aspects of these major U.S. companies.
After looking into the investigation, I discovered that each of these corporations were in some way involved in more than just business with China. As stated by the FBI, “… those companies were engaged in negotiations or joint ventures or were pursuing legal action with, or against, state-owned enterprises in China”. These hackers were able to access vital information about U.S. competitors and their negotiation strategies with these Chinese enterprises. Of course the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson denied any government or military responsibility for the crimes stating that, “The U.S. accusation against Chinese personnel is purely ungrounded and absurd”. This latest case of suspected cyber-attacks from China is the first to actually move forward with official criminal charges and is likely to strain the U.S.–Chinese relationship even further.
I would love to hear from someone living in China about these accusations. Though I’m fully aware of the U.S.’s capacity to lie about such accusations, I want to know what you think about this. Do you think that these charges were fabricated by the U.S. or do you believe that the crimes committed are legitimate? Does this case latest case of cyber-attacks strain the relationship between the U.S. and China as much as the news says it does? Whether from China or not, please leave me a post and let me know what your thoughts are on this case.
Do you remember the last time that you ate a child’s heart so that you could be invincible in battle? Can’t recall ever doing so? Well take a look at this documentary that I found on youtube.com. The documentary was produced by Vice News, a news agency that does in depth reporting across the globe. In this documentary Shane Smith, Vice News co-founder and field correspondent, travels to the west African nation of Liberia to investigate the so called Cannibal Warlords that live there. Let me warn you that the documentary has some strong content.
After exploring several parts of Liberia, Shane Smith lands a shady interview with former General “Butt Naked.” The general, who gave himself the name “Butt Naked”, explains the origin of his name to Shane. He tells the reporter that he chose this name because of his combat strategy during Liberia’s civil war. A strategy in which he would instruct his rebel soldiers to strip down completely before battle. Once fully nude, he would have his soldiers bring an innocent child to him for ritualistic purposes. He would then cut the child’s heart out of his/her chest, while still alive, and have each of his soldiers consume a piece of it. General “Butt Naked” explained to his soldiers that this sacrifice would bring them magical powers in combat and make them invincible. Only then would the General and his soldiers go into battle, while still completely nude I should add. This ritual of sacrifice was repeated before every single battle, thus causing the needless slaughter of hundreds of innocent children during the war.
Today General “Butt Naked” spends his days preaching to his community. He converted to Christianity after the war and now preaches at churches around Liberia about his struggle with his violent past. Former victims of his cannibal rituals say that he converted to Christianity only to avoid punishment for his war crimes. So the former general’s life is now in constant danger of attack from people affected by his military past. According to him these are false accusations. He says that the reason he converted to Christianity was so that he could be a better person and more importantly a better father to his young daughter. Though he takes the full blame for his actions, he recognizes that if his parents would have raised him instead of abandon him, then he might be a different man today. That thought is what motivates him to be a better father and a better person with the help of Christianity.
I tried to put myself in his shoes and imagine what life must have been like for him in Liberia. I wonder what kind of trauma he experienced before deciding that killing children and eating their hearts was the right thing to do. Maybe he’s just a psychopath with no remorse, incapable of distinguishing right from wrong. However it seems odd to me that a person who is incapable of knowing right from wrong would choose to devote the rest of his life to Christianity seeking forgiveness for his sins. The question of whether or not this man should be executed for his crimes remains a mixed issue. Does punishing a person’s ignorance with death solve the issue of ignorance? Does not punishing this man solve the issue of ignorance? I’m not sure what the solution is, if there even is a solution, but what I do know is that this country and its people are completely foreign to me. I will pray for them and hope that change comes sooner than later…
I would love to hear from someone living in Liberia. If you are from there or have family that lives there, please reply to this blog post. I want to hear your story and know what it is like for you as a citizen of Liberia. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.