Marijuana shop in Washington
Tuesday July 8, 2014 the state of Washington has allowed for the legal sale of recreational Marijuana. Washington is the second state after Colorado to legalize the sale and consumption of recreational Marijuana. With only a handful of locations open to the public, lines have formed outside of the lucky Marijuana businesses. While the state received overwhelming support for the initiative, some cities have protested and written counter-legislation to outlaw the sale and use of Marijuana. However, despite these few rebellious cities, the majority of Washington’s population is in favor of the initiative.
Colorado and Washington are now the social experiment of the United States as their techniques of monitoring and taxing the plant are being monitored closely. Meanwhile investors and venture capitalist are jumping at the opportunity to make serious profit from this unique time. So many years of prohibition towards Marijuana has made the public reluctant to accept the status quo but activists remain hopeful that the trend will spread. With the economy in a vulnerable state and our national debt to China on the rise, it’s hard to see how there’s any resistance to this new source of income.
I began to think about the benefits and consequences of legalizing Marijuana in Florida and I too believe that more good than bad can come from this type of legislation. Speaking for myself, I would like to see a national effort to change these laws and lift this current state of prohibition. The legalization of Marijuana has the potential to divert billions of dollars of revenue to hard working Americans, instead of illegal drug traffickers. In addition the revenue from its taxation could prove to be useful in this time of economic struggle.
Currently 23 states have legalized the medical use of Marijuana and 2 states have legalized the recreational use of Marijuana. Florida recently passed a bill that allows for the consumption of Marijuana for medical patients with chronic illnesses given that it has a low dose of THC and is not smoked but rather vaporized or in pill form. Little by little progress is being made around the country and it seems that we are well on our way to the end of this prohibition. I would love to hear from anyone living in Colorado or Washington. What do you think about the new laws? Leave a comment and let me know. Thanks for stopping by!
The past six months in Thailand have been chaotic to say the least. At first, the judicial branch of government overthrew its political leaders and democratically elected Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. During this transition the opposition group led by Suthep Thaugsuban created the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) to temporarily control the country until new elections could be held. Unsurprisingly enough, this coalition did not last for long, as the country’s military ordered a coup d’état. Today Thailand is under strict rule and martial laws are being enforced daily. This is where it gets interesting.
Under the order of General Prayuth Chan-ocha, commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, any opposition to the coup d’état is punishable by law. With orders to break up any gathering of more than five people, the military has had its hands full with the task of detaining all opposition groups. Realizing that the military is on a mission to silence anyone who challenges them, the people have assembled in small groups and quietly expressed their political beliefs. Small acts of defiance like putting up three fingers or passing out sandwiches to supporters has even been prohibited by the military.
In the video above, you will see anti-military activists simply walking through a mall to assemble a resistance and then undercover military forces detaining them. In the past month, hundreds of anti-military activists have disappeared, as undercover military forces take them to undisclosed locations. Posing as security guards to disguise their military status, the militants grab any opposition activists they see and detain them immediately, never to be seen or heard from again. Meanwhile the military government has placed curfews, limited social media usage, taken full control of the judiciary, taken full control of the media and imposed martial law.
It is unclear whether or not the military intends on simply restoring order and then establishing elections, or if they plan on remaining in power. Hundreds of former politicians await their fate in prison as the military has accused and sentenced most of the former leaders to jail. The video that I posted above is one of five installments from Vice News. For more episodes you could visit their YouTube page and check out the other dispatches. I would love to hear from anyone who is from Thailand about the situation that is going on. Are you pro or anti military and why? If you know anything about the conflict that we should know please leave a comment. Thanks for stopping by!
Thailand and its neighbors
Thailand on a World Map
How did James Franco and Seth Rogan piss off North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un so much that he threatened to declare war on the U.S.? They killed him in their movie of course. In their most recent film “The Interview”, the comedy duo finds themselves with the task of assassinating the North Korean dictator. Kim Jong-un took to the state-run news immediately and did what he does best, complain and threaten to start a war. The North Korean dictator said that he would mercilessly retaliate against the U.S. if the film was allowed to be aired. He also said that he would consider the U.S.’s approval of this type of film to be a blatant act of war and the highest form of a terrorist threat.
Above is the movie trailer for the new comedy that sparked the outrage by Kim Jong-un. It shows Rogan and Franco on a secret mission in North Korea. According to BBC News, Seth Rogan has since replied to the recent events via twitter saying, “”People don’t usually wanna kill me for one of my movies until after they’ve paid 12 bucks for it.” His comments always get a good laugh out of me. The movie which has deeply offended the North Korean leader is set to release later this year. I could only hope that Kim Jong-un has to pay “12 bucks” to watch the film which he considers “an act of war”. FYI Kim Jong-un, America makes movies about killing its own President, one of the many joys of living in a free democracy! Thanks for stopping by everyone.
North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un
Seth Rogan (Left) and James Franco (Right)
Above is a video titled “Solar Freakin Roadways”, which is the campaign kick starter by Indiegogo that was intended to capture the attention of big time investors. With a goal of one million dollars to get an initial prototype project underway, the campaign was flooded with more than two million dollars and over 48,000 supporters in just a couple of months. Needless to say, these solar powered roadways, sidewalks and parking lots are pretty amazing. Aside from providing energy solutions, these roadways could open up a new market for job creation and also generate income from an unlimited supply of renewable energy.
As you watch the video, you’ll notice that the benefits of having solar powered roadways are countless. The installation of these roadways would call for an underground electrical channel which could be used in conjunction with each cities electrical infrastructure to remove the use of power lines. Heated solar roadways would also prevent the buildup of snow during the winter months which would result in less corrosive damage from salt, safer travel and savings from minimizing snow plow costs. Regular streets have to constantly be repaved and patched up wherever potholes appear, another possibly obsolete problem solved with solar roadways.
Each of the solar panels is lined with a high impact resistant material to prevent damage and also with LED lights which could be used in a number of configurations. For instance, let’s say there’s an accident up ahead, the LED lights could signal for you to slow down or merge lanes. Parking lots could be rearranged as needed in seconds because with the LED lights in place, painting the space will not be necessary. Like I said before, the benefits are seemingly endless so it’s best if you watch the whole video. I myself was a little skeptical at first, but the video convinced me otherwise. I believe this stuff could change the world one day and it could make our country an energy independent nation if taken seriously. So enjoy the clip and thanks for stopping by!
Suntech Power Holdings factory in Phoenix, Arizona
Suntech Power Holdings factory in Phoenix, Arizona
Americans (myself included) can’t remember a time when we weren’t the most powerful nation in the world. Being the most powerful nation in the world is a title that comes with special responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is job creation. The U.S. has long been known for its ability to keep unemployment rates down and its salaries reasonable. However, over the past decade, the U.S. has been slipping on its job creation responsibilities. Unemployment has been on the rise, the middle class has been all but wiped out and the gap between the rich and the poor is at its greatest. In the most unlikely of twists, the country that’s now creating jobs in the U.S. is none other than China.
Last year an estimated 14 billion dollars were invested in the U.S. by Chinese companies, employing over 70,000 U.S. citizens. Who would have thought that China, of all countries, would be investing in the U.S. and creating jobs? After decades of U.S. companies moving their operations to China, Chinese investors are now looking to do the same here in the U.S. by promoting more Chinese American business investment. From the Southern states of Alabama and Mississippi to the Western state of Arizona, these states are offering cheap real-estate and a strong workforce. Suntech Power Holdings, a Chinese solar panel firm, is a prime example of Chinese investment in the U.S. as the factory is located in Phoenix, Arizona.
Chinese investors are purchasing struggling U.S. companies and also purchasing abandoned factories and converting them into profitable modern factories. With competitive wages and the necessary infrastructure to move large sums of products already in place, it’s likely that the U.S. will only see an increase in Chinese investment. While I’m not entirely comfortable with the thought of Chinese companies employing our citizens, I was less comfortable with the idea of sending U.S. jobs overseas to China. Hopefully this new era of Chinese investment in the U.S. will remind our own companies of how valuable U.S. employment can be.
I would love to hear from you guys about this new era of U.S. investment. Do you think that China’s investments in the U.S. is a good thing or a bad thing? Let me know what you think and thanks for stopping by!
China and its Neighbors
Amazon’s Fire Phone
Yes, you read that title right, Amazon released a smart phone that has a 3D display! Whether you’re into technology or not you’ll likely find this smartphone to be as amazing as I did. Amazon’s smartphone called the “Fire Phone” has four front facing cameras that read facial and eye movements to give you the illusion that you are looking at an image with depth.
Fire Phone uses layers so that if an icon is blocking your view, you could simply tilt the phone and look under it. With specialized games, GPS, and other APPs the Fire Phone delivers a unique 3-D experience for its users. This phone makes my LG smartphone look like a dinosaur and it’s only two years old.
At just $199.00, this phone is likely to become a game changer. AT&T is the sole provider for the Fire Phone which is probably the only negative thing about it. But with surround sound speakers, a dynamic perspective display and a 13 megapixel camera this smartphone is an all-around winner in my book!
Crisis continues in Syria as President Bashar al-Assad continues to wage war against his countries citizens. In 2011, several students were tortured by the government regime because of their anti-government demonstrations. Peaceful protests were held shortly after the news broke and Bashar al-Assad’s government opened fire on the citizens. Since then the crisis in Syria has escalated to outrageous proportions as the government uses any resources possible to silence the opposition to his rule. Today Syria has become a breeding ground for Al Qaeda militants as the current state of chaos gives them the foothold they need to radicalize an angered Syrian youth.
Aleppo, Syria’s most populous city, lies in ruins as Bashar al-Assad’s military bombards the Syrian Free Army on a daily basis. Chemical weapons were used against the Syrian people causing an uproar in the international community which led to the destruction of those weapons. However, Bashar al-Assad has since replaced his chemical arsenal with a new type of weapon known as a barrel bomb. Highly inaccurate and ultimately destructive, these barrel bombs are hurled by the military from their airplanes on a daily basis. Innocent citizens are being murdered by these barrel bombs which serve solely to intimidate and further suppress the Syrian people.
Mass migrations of Syrian citizens have led to an overabundance of misplaced people who struggle to survive in neighboring nations. Aleppo itself has lost over 70% of its population since the attacks began and now what’s left is mostly sick, elderly and young citizens who were incapable of escaping the battlegrounds they once called home. Al Qaeda capitalizes on the war torn cities of Syria and has increased their support by the thousands. Offering protection, food, shelter and an opportunity to fight their corrupt government regime, many find it difficult not to join Al Qaeda’s growing forces. This build-up is now spilling over into Iraq, as newly reinforced rebel fighters take control of its cities daily.
Al Qaeda now boasts an increasingly more powerful rebel force as several raids in Iraq have equipped the group with U.S. purchased military equipment. A region wide crisis is underway and the people of Aleppo have been forgotten and overshadowed by the chaos currently taking place in Iraq. The video that I posted above shows just how hostile Aleppo has become and the daily struggle of its remaining population. Ambulances and hospitals are overwhelmed by Bashar al-Assad’s barrel bomb weapons and the destruction that they cause. With little to no coverage on these events, it’s likely that Aleppo will only continue to be the largest recruitment location for Al Qaeda’s rebel forces.
Are you from Syria or do you have family from Syria? Did you leave the country or are you still living there? I would love to hear from anyone who has any insight on the situation. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about this and as always thanks for stopping by.
World Map of Syria
Syria’s major cities
ISIS Fighters in Mosul, Iraq
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.
Iraq on a World Map
Confronted with mounting protests and civil unrest, Brazil’s police force resorts to tear gas, flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets to ward off potentially violent crowds. With the FIFA World Cup just days away, authorities will do whatever they can to keep control and order in the streets. Angry protestors in São Paulo and Rio de Janiero say that they are not happy with the government’s allocation of funds. Spending billions of dollars on constructing the necessary infrastructure to support the World Cup is not seen as a priority by many Brazilians who have difficulty putting food on the table and finding jobs. Furthermore, the lack of completion of several stadiums has yet further infuriated the public as they watch their tax dollars being spent carelessly.
Subway workers at São Paulo went on strike Monday which added fuel to the fire. Construction workers desperately work as fast as possible to assure that all of the necessary infrastructure is complete before game one. After being battered by tear gas and other riot resistance weapons, the subway workers decided to call off the strike for two more days or so. They know that if they want to make their voices heard then that will be the time to do it. Authorities fear that the protests could incapacitate the city and create delays for the games.
Social media networks are buzzing with anti-FIFA sentiment. Workers Unions are taking to the streets as well as this is likely their best opportunity to take a blow at Brazil’s politicians. In Rio de Janiero, the former residents of near-by favelas are also making their voices heard. Months before the World Cup, authorities displaced thousands from their homes to make the necessary infrastructure changes to host the game. The result is hundreds of homeless Brazilians that are eager to make a statement to their government.
Each day that we get closer to game one in Brazil, everyone is wondering what will happen next. Will Brazil’s police department be able to tame the protests and assure safety for the Countries citizens and tourists? Or will Brazil’s angry citizens organize a protest so large that it could threaten the safety of the players, tourists and citizens alike?
Are you from Brazil or are you traveling there for the games? I want to hear what you have to say about these protests. Have they reached you? Do you see chaos in the streets or do you see more press then protestors? Please leave me a comment or send me a message. Thanks for stopping by.
World map of Brazil
Taliban leaders that we released to get Bowe Bergdahl back.
Abdul Haq Wasiq
Mullah Mohammad Fazl
Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa
Mullah Norullah Noori
Mohammad Nabi Omari
If you have been watching the news lately then you must have heard about the release of Bowe Bergdahl, the American soldier who was held captive for 5 years in Afghanistan. The United States negotiated with Taliban forces for the release of Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five high ranking Taliban leaders. The Taliban leaders were being held in Guantanamo Bay before their release to Qatar. Their release was contingent upon the constant supervision of their activities and a one-year restriction to remain in Qatar. Despite the relief felt by so many for Bergdahl’s release, there are now rumors that Bowe abandoned his squad. These new reports are challenging the legality and morality of the decision that was made with the Taliban in exchange for Bergdahl’s release.
After hearing all of the buzz I had to look more into the situation to understand what exactly was going on here. According to Bowe Berdahl’s old squad members, he abandoned his post and left a note saying that he did not agree with the war and because of that reason he was leaving the military. Another report said that a soldier was killed while on a mission to rescue Bergdahl. If both are true, then I could only wonder why a squad would pursue a “deserter”, as Bergdahl has been called, in the first place. Secondly, why would the U.S. negotiate with the Taliban, which they have never done before, in exchange for a soldier who is so controversial? Furthermore, we gave the Taliban five detainees and they only gave us one, a trade that seems awfully one sided to me.
While the exact details of the story will likely remain a secret, there are some facts that we could observe like the identity of the five terrorists who were released to Qatari officials. Listed above, these five terrorists were all high ranking officers in the Taliban. People are saying that it is likely that these men will return to their terrorist activities as soon as their one year probation is over. However, I wonder if the real problem is that they return or that their release was the direct result of negotiation with a well-known terrorist cell in Afghanistan.
I wonder what all of the people calling Bowe Bergdahl a “deserter” would do if they were dropped into a war that they knew was wrong. Would they continue to kill people for reasons that they themselves cannot explain? I ask this question because I hear so many people saying that Bowe Bergdahl should have been left to die in captivity instead of released. The courts are pondering whether or not to put him on trial for those crimes. However, I doubt that half of the people saying these things have been put in a situation like his. Maybe the real question that should be asked is why are U.S. soldiers doubting their responsibilities in Afghanistan in the first place? Maybe, just maybe, these soldiers don’t want to kill the Afghans anymore. Maybe they know that we never should have invaded and occupied a country for the reasons that we did.
I’m not defending either side but I do like questioning everything. If you heard about this story and have your own opinion on what happened then leave a comment. I would love to hear back from you guys and know what you think should be done.