Category Archives: Politics

04Apr/16
South china sea

Are Asian Countries Tiring of China’s South China Sea Escapades?

With each month, tensions in the South China Sea continue to grow as more Asian countries are starting to fight back against Chinese aggression in the area. Just this past week, there were three incidences that worked to cast a light on the region’s growing impatience over China’s claim to the entire South China Sea waterway.

The week’s tensions started when an Indonesian Naval vessel captured a Chinese Fishing boat that was operating illegally near the Natuna Islands, which falls within Indonesia’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea. As the vessel was being towed to port, a Chinese Coast Guard vessel showed up and started ramming the fishing boat until it was freed from capture. The Indonesian government was upset because the aggression happened in waters that are clearly under the country’s control.

Just days later, the Japanese Navy was given permission to dock two destroyers and a submarine in the Subic Bay region of the Philippines. This happened one-day prior to United States and Philippines military personnel joining in schedule war games designed to show unity between strong allies. The Filipino government, which has been central to bringing formal complaints against China’s territory grabs in the region, is working to get support from both the US and Japan.

In more recent days, Vietnam had its Coast Guard seize a Chinese vessel near Bach Long Vi Island in the Gulf of Tonkin. The vessel looked like a standard fishing boat, but was actually carrying diesel fuel that the vessel’s captain claimed was intended for Chinese fishing boasts in the area.

This is a noticeable change in attitude as the Vietnamese Coast Guard routinely chases Chinese boats out of the country’s areas of control, but seldom goes so far as to seize them. There is little doubt these actions are a by-product of what is happening in the South China Sea.

With a formal international hearing related to the South China Sea scheduled for later this year, there could be a growing number of disputes in these waters as each country tries to reclaim that which they feel is legally theirs.

21Mar/16
Barack Obama trip to Cuba

US President Barack Obama Begins Historic Trip to Cuba

For the first time in 88 years, a sitting United States President has set foot on Cuban soil. As promised months earlier, President Barack Obama and his entourage, including First Lady Michelle and his daughters, touched down on Sunday, March 20 in Havana on Air Force One.

It’s been more than 50 years since relations between the US and Cuba were put on hold as a result of the “Bay of Pigs” invasion of 1961. Since then, the US government has been routinely accused of trying to lead operations to oust former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

President Obama’s visit is scheduled to last a little less than 48 hours in duration. While he meets with President Raúl Castro and other Cuban officials, his wife and daughters are expected to get a whirlwind tour of Havana’s best restaurants, shopping malls and cultural points of interest.

During his scheduled meeting with President Castro at the Palacio de la Revolución, President Obama intends to unveil his agenda. That agenda includes finding ways to open doors and improve relations between the two countries, while also laying the groundwork for trying to get the Cuban government to do a better job addressing human rights issues within their country.

Ultimately, the administration would like to see more trade and tourism between the two countries and a loosening of traveling restrictions for US citizens who want to visit family members on the island of Cuba.

Back in December of last year, Obama said in an interview with Yahoo news regarding his objectives with Cuba, “Our central premise is that if they are suddenly exposed to the world, opened to America and our information and our culture and our visitors and our businesses, invariably they’re going to change.”

As should be expected, President Obama will be honored at a state dinner and afforded the opportunity to deliver a speech of hope for the future to the Cuban people. Earlier in the day, the President plans to take in some baseball action as the Tampa Bay Rays play against Cuba’s national team in Havana.

18Mar/16
Donald Trump

The Wild Wild Week of Donald Trump

With GOP front-runner Donald Trump enjoying a comfortable lead, one would expect everything in his world is under control. As it turns out, things are effectively out of control with tensions running high and outside influences starting to rock the boat.

In recent weeks, protesters have been infiltrating Trump rallies in an attempt to shut down the events. Beyond a little pushing and shoving, a protester was punched in the face and a reporter was arrested for what amounted to be nothing more than being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

If that wasn’t disconcerting enough, the real fireworks started on March 11 in Chicago when protesters and Trump supporters clashed after the proceedings at a rally were abruptly shut down as tension started mounting. Five people were arrested and two police officers injured. The events of the day led Trump organizers to cancel a rally scheduled for the following day at the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion due in large part to what they perceived to be a hostile environment.

During the weekend, Trump, who had moved on to campaign in Ohio, was giving a speech in stage in Fairborn. In the middle of speech, a man from the audience broke through a barrier and rushed the stage. There was a lot of resulting commotion, forcing several Secret Service members and Trump security staff to rush the stage and stop the man.

Thomas DiMassimo, a 22 Wright State University senior, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and inducing panic. When asked why he charged the stage, DiMassimo told a CNN interviewer “I was thinking that Donald Trump is a bully, and he is nothing more than that. He is somebody who is just saying a lot of bold things; he’s making bold claims. But I can see right through that and I can see that he’s truly just a coward. And he’s opportunistic and he’s willing to destroy this country for power for himself.”

While members from both sides of the isle are calling for civility, it’s clear the country’s unrest is being reflected in political venues. Unfortunately, it looks like this could be status-quo over the coming weeks as candidates continue sorting themselves out.

 

07Mar/16
South china sea

The Escalating Problems in the South China Sea

Over the past 10-20 years, the Chinese government has been using intimidation to control waters in the South China Sea. This has taken place while the rest of the world has been focused on issues related to ISIS, Russia and the rest of the Middle East.

In recent statements coming out of Beijing, the Chinese are laying claim to all waters in the South China Sea because the sea bears the country’s name. For counties like Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines, that kind of ridiculous explanation just isn’t going to get it done.

The South China Sea is listed as international waters for the purpose of fishing and navigation. In recent times, the Chinese have used naval operations to deter international fishing boats from strategic parts of the South China Sea while Chinese engineers have been turning reefs into man-made islands. Claims have been made by Japan and the Philippines that these man-made islands have been designed with landing strips large enough to initiate military operations.

In 2015, the Philippines filed a complaint with the Hague Arbitral Court regarding legal access to certain parts of the South China Sea as well as ownership of strategic islands. While a formal international hearing on the matter is scheduled for later this year, Beijing has stated they will refuse to participate or abide by any legal rulings handed down. The Court was created as part of a treaty signed by the Chinese.

In the meantime, menacing tactics are still being used as recent as this past month. In an area known as the Jackson Atoll, Filipino fishing vessels were forced to leave the area by the Chinese Coast Guard. In response, the US has increased its naval patrols in the area as a show of force against Chinese aggression in the area.

Regardless of what other countries are saying and/or doing, it is clear there’s major problem brewing in the South China Sea. Should the Hague issue a ruling in favor of the Philippines and other Asian nations, there will come a time when the international community is going to have to confront the Chinese about its illegal expansionism.

 

29Feb/16
Gun control debate US

Gun Control Debate in US Gets More Fuel to the Fire

On a regular basis, gun control activists in the US get a little more fuel for their fire. Over the past two weeks, there have been two mass killings where the perpetrators used firearms.

The first incident occurred in Kalamazoo, Michigan on February 20 when a Uber driver named Jason Brian Dalton went on a shooting rampage that led to six deaths and two more injured bystanders. According to police, Dalton was shooting random victims in between taking care of his schedule pickups. The suspect has since confessed to the killings, which were done with a semiautomatic handgun.

The second incident occurred on February 25 when factory worker Cedrick Ford left work at the Excel lawnmower parts factory only to return with a rifle and handgun. The shootings began while Ford was in transit back to his workplace. Two people were shot on the streets while a third victim was shot in the factory’s parking lot. Once inside the building, Ford went on a shooting rampage, which left three dead and as many as 11 more injured. Police eventually killed Ford.

While police investigate motive and causation of both these mass shooting, gun control activists are raising the call for more gun controls. This comes long before sufficient information has been made available as to how, where and when the murder weapons had been acquired. In the case of Ford, he was a convicted felon who was not legally allowed to purchase guns.

For now, the gun control debate is sure to continue. The real dispute between opponents and proponents of stricter gun laws has to do with whether or not stricter gun laws will make a material difference. Illinois has some of the strictest guns laws in the country, yet they lead the nation in gun-related murders by a rather large margin.

22Feb/16
New deal EU - Britain

England’s New Deal With EU protects British Interests

In recent years, there has been growing concerns in Great Britain about the intrusive nature of the European Union (EU). Many people in parliament and the UK business community have long criticized the EU about overreach, bordering on prying into the country’s business.

Amid recent calls for England to depart from the EU, Prime Minister David Cameron has reached a deal with EU officials. As part of the deal, the UK will remain in the EU, but can selectively abide by some of it’s guidelines should member states decide to move towards a “European superstate.”

This move was made in anticipation of the EU getting further involved in immigration and economic issues throughout Europe. It is this additional intrusion that has drawn the ire of political leaders like anti-EU politician, Nigel Farage who believes England is strong enough to run an independent state in all regards.

On the new deal, Cameron had this to say; “This is enough for me to recommend that the United Kingdom remain in the European Union having the best of both worlds. Turning our back on Europe is no solution at all.” He later added that this new “live and let live” agreement was exactly the kind of solution the people of England have wanted for years.

With the new deal in hand, Cameron is prepared to have an in-out referendum put before British citizens by sometime during the summer. Between now and then, both opponents and proponents of the new deal will be busy working to pull enough votes together to dictate whether or not England stays in the EU.

It’s worth noting that leaders from some member countries see this as nothing more than posturing, but are resigned to the fact Cameron has the right to do what it takes to protect his countrymen.

15Feb/16
US supreme court

The Political Gamesmanship for the US Supreme Court Has Begun

Within hours of learning about the passing of US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the political posturing by both the democrats and GOP had begun. The sad news came as a shock on Saturday evening, February 13. As both President Barack Obama and GOP Congress leadership heard the breaking news, they immediately began the process of applying political pressure on each other about the prospects of a replacement for Scalia.

At stake is the soul of America for generations to come. This would be the third opportunity for President Obama to make a Supreme Court appointment. His prior two appointees, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, have proven to be quite liberal in their approach to the US Constitution and the laws of the land.

While one would hope the Supreme Court would remain apolitical, the reality is quite the opposite. Currently, there are now four Supreme Courts justices who are considered conservative while the remaining four typically vote as liberals. Scalia was a staunch conservative who always kept his eye on the intent of the constitution when making his judgements.

Now sitting four to four, the next Supreme Court Justice would be considered the swing vote on issues that typically get divided among conservatives and liberals. President Obama almost immediately announced his intention to put forth a nominee as quickly as possible while putting pressure on the GOP held Senate to move swiftly towards an appointment.

In turn, GOP leadership is calling for the President to put off any nominations until the election current cycle has been completed. If Obama gets the appointee, the Supreme Court would most certainly take on a liberal persona. If the Senate decides to delay hearings until the election has been completed, they will be doing so in hopes of gaining the White House. It would then be up to a conservative President to put forth the nomination.

Either way, Americans can brace themselves for a real war as the country’s political leaders battle for the soul of America. With several political issues pending before the Supreme Court, it would seem to be a long shot at best the Obama will get this coveted opportunity to further move the Supreme Court to the left.

08Feb/16
Trump Cruz Iowa

Senator Cruz Stuns Trump in Iowa

The 2016 elections officially got underway early this month as folks in Iowa gathered for their historic caucuses. On the democrats’ side, it turned out to be a real horse race as former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton defeated Senator Barry Sanders by less than .5% of the caucus vote. With that, each person is expected to get support from half the delegates at the state convention.

On the GOP side, the results were a little more conclusive, but not in favor of the candidate that was leading by a safe margin according to the polls taken just days before the event. When the smoke finally cleared from the Republican caucus, Senator Ted Cruz from Texas had defeated billionaire businessman Donald Trump with 28% of the vote. Trump received support from 23% of the caucus members, barely beating out Florida Senator Marco Rubio by tenths of a percentage for second.

The results have to be confounding for Trump’s camp that was expecting an easy victory. What went wrong? There is a few theories on that. First, there were a lot of voters during polling that had yet to make up their minds. The fact Trump decided to skip the Fox debate just days prior to the caucus may have prompted those undecided voters to break for Cruz or Rubio.

Secondly, Trump failed to carry the day with voters under 49-years of age as had been predicted based on his popularity with that group on as national level. Finally, it might have been nothing more than the normal aberrations that occur when polling is done. That’s why everything is stated with an expected margin for error.

If anything, the results in Iowa made clear that this election cycle is going to be close and highly competitive. Leaving nothing to chance, look for all candidates to step up their games as they move on to New Hampshire and South Carolina.