Delightful Dinner at Miracle Mile

Inside of Swine

Inside of Swine

Miami is a great place to try new restaurants and experiment with different foods. Recently there has been a Gastro-Pub revolution in the Miami area. With a more intimate vibe, unique drinks and menus that reflect a Chef’s creativity, they are all the rave. This is why we chose to go to Miracle Mile in Miami, an area that’s known for its shopping, bars and most of all its trending restaurants. Saturday, Jessica and I went to a relatively new Gastro-Pub named Swine. Here’s what we had.

 

Fried Green Tomatoes at Swine

Fried Green Tomatoes at Swine

Fried Green Tomatoes. These delicious little green tomatoes won us over from the first bite. The flavors were so fresh and Earthy that we almost ordered seconds and ditched our meals. Ingredients: FL Tomme, pea shoots and tomato chow chow. I don’t quite know what those things are by themselves, but together I know that they are the best fried green tomatoes I have ever had!

 

(Left) Orkney Skull Splitter (Right) Homestead Bound at Swine

(Left) Orkney Skull Splitter (Right) homestead Bound at Swine

Orkney Skull Splitter Ale and the Homestead Bound. Probably the most creative and refreshing drink I have ever had in my life, of course ordered by Jessica. The Homestead Bound ingredients: Absolut Vodka, Veev Acai, fresh strawberries, orange, lemon basil and mint. This delightful amalgamation of fresh ingredients and properly mixed alcohol is a game changer to say the least. I will definitely order that again when I return. The beer that I ordered was really great too, packed with rich complex flavor that anyone should expect from a good ale.

 

The Swine Burger

The Swine Burger

The Swine Burger. Ingredients: Short-rib, brisket and smoked pork blend, homemade dill pickle, thick-cut house smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, American cheese and Swine’s special sauce. The burger was a great choice as all of the ingredients could be savored individually and no single ingredient overpowered another. The lettuce and tomato was fresh, the bacon was crispy and the meat was cooked to perfection.

 

Cookies&Milk at Swine

Cookies&Milk at Swine

Cookies and Milk. Ingredients: White chocolate stuffed homemade Oreos, ice-cold bourbon spiked milk and a dark chocolate dipping sauce. I should say that I’m lucky to have Jessica by my side because if not for her then I would have never tried this desert. The cookies and dipping sauce were warm and the spiked milk was super cold. Every bite was just as delicious as the last leaving you wanting more. Initially skeptical about the spiced milk, we were shocked to find that the subtle hint of bourbon gave the milk just the right amount of flavor to make it perfect.

 

For those of you who are looking for a restaurant with a unique personality and a world class chef, go to Swine. This Gastro-Pub nestled in Miracle Mile Miami is my new favorite restaurant hands down. A relaxed ambiance with dim lighting and creative décor make this restaurant everything that a Gastro-Pub should be. We had great service and we could tell that the staff was as excited about the food as we were. We felt like we were among friends who wanted us to enjoy this experience with them. Swine is a definite winner in my book and I recommend the spot to anyone who is willing to try something new. Thanks for stopping by.

China Brings Jobs to the U.S.?

Suntech Power Holdings factory in Phoenix, Arizona

Suntech Power Holdings factory in Phoenix, Arizona

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

China and its Neighbors

Amazon Launches 3-D Fire Phone

Amazon's Fire Phone

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!

Al Qaeda Regains Control in Iraq

ISIS Fighters in Mosul, Iraq

ISIS Fighters in Mosul, Iraq

Innocent Victims of Recent ISIS Attacks in Mosul, Iraq

Innocent Victims of Recent ISIS Attacks in Mosul, Iraq

Hundreds of Thousands of Citizens Fleeing the Cities Under Attack by ISIS

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.

Sources

ibtimes.com

cnn.com

 

Iraq on a World Map

Iraq on a World Map

 

 

 

Brazil Battles Protestors

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

World map of Brazil

 

 

Bowe Bergdahl, The Big Trade-Off

Taliban leaders that we released to get Bowe Bergdahl back.

 

Abdul Haq Wasiq

Abdul Haq Wasiq

Mullah Mohammad Fazl

Mullah Mohammad Fazl

Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa

Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa

Mullah Norullah Noori

Mullah Norullah Noori

Mohammad Nabi Omari

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.

 

Bowe Bergdahl

Bowe Bergdahl

 

Cannibal Warlord, General “Butt Naked”

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.

Post Sources

cia.gov

youtube.com

Liberia in Africa Liberia with neighbors

Source (Picture 1)                                                                              Source (Picture 2)

 

 

15 Quick Facts about Liberia

Official Language: English (Though only 20% of the population exclusively speaks English)

President: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, since 2006 (She was reelected in 2011 with 90.7% of the total vote in her favor)

Religion: 85.6% Christian, 12.2% Muslim

Total Population: 4,092,310

Capital: Monrovia

Median Age of Population: 18 years old (U.S. median age: 37 years old)

Sanitation Facility Access: 18.2% of the total population (81.8% with no access to restrooms or sewage infrastructure)

Health Expenditures: 19.5% of GDP

Physician Density: 0.01 Physicians/1000 people (Whatever you do don’t get sick in Liberia)

Education Expenditures: 2.8% of GDP

Total GDP: $2.89 Billion U.S. Dollars (Mark Zuckerberg’s Net Worth: $26.6 Billion U.S. Dollars)

Average Annual Income (Per Person): $700.00 U.S. Dollars (Qatar’s average is the highest at: $102,100 U.S. Dollars)

Privately Owned T.V. Stations: 3

Total Internet Users: 20,000 people (That’s less than 1% of the entire population)

Transnational Issues: Human Trafficking, Drug Trafficking, Civil Unrest, Refugee Disputes with Neighboring Countries