Category Archives: Politics

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.

19Jan/16
Oil companies OPEC

Small Oil Companies Feeling the Crush

With oil prices continuing to plunge due to large supply reserves all over the world, small oil companies are quickly finding themselves at the point of critical mass. After reaching a peak of $103.66 per barrel in June 2014, oil prices have fallen over 70% to a recent low of $29.93. Even worse is the prospects of continuing downward pressure on prices as the OPEC nations continue producing oil with little or no regard for pricing levels.

Not only are small oil concerns feeling the crush, but they also find themselves with fewer options as the oil price plunge continues. It takes a great deal of capital investment to drill, set up a rig and maintain on-going operations. After making these huge capital investments between 2010-2014, the financial yield at current price levels is insufficient to cover operational costs.

The options are becoming limited. Most oil drilling companies need to continue pumping given that any revenues are better than none. The only other alternative is to cap wells and start laying off large groups of employees. Neither of these two options are going to do much to help companies avoid the prospects of filing bankruptcy.

The increased possibility of major bankruptcy filings within the oil industry is creating an even bigger problem for investors. According to analysis done by the people at Yahoo-Finance, only 5 of 569 oil companies have been able to avoid significant decreases in stock prices. In fact, more than a third of these companies have seen a 90% or more decrease in stock price since hitting its highs in 2014.

While consumers are certainly enjoying the drop in prices at the pump, the strain on the sector and the economy in general could eventually erase the benefits of lower gas prices. It remains to be seen when the bleeding will stop.

12Jan/16
Inauguration Of Emirates National Oil Co. Plant

Why are Oil Prices Still Falling In Spite of Tensions Between Saudi Arabia and Iran?

In direct conflict with past history, oil prices are continuing to tumble despite tensions rising between Saudi Arabia and Iran, two of the world’s largest oil producers. Surprisingly, oil prices currently sit at 11-year lows, and falling, as supply is exceeding demand all across the globe.

The trouble began when officials in the Sunni-Muslim dominated nation of Saudi Arabia moved forward with the execution of 47 Shiite-Muslim activists, including prominent cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. In response, Shiite Iranian citizens attacked and damaged the Saudi embassy in Tehran. The end-result has been the total cessation of diplomatic ties between these two neighbouring countries.

Other than creating more upheaval and unrest in the Middle East, it would appear that recent events are having little to no economic effect on other countries, even those that are entirely dependent on oil supplies from one of these nations or the other.

One reason events like this tend to have minimal economic effect on other countries is because of the lack of desire of foreign nations to invest in countries facing so much turmoil. If it weren’t for the need to import affordable oil, most nations would most likely cease to transact business of any kind with many if not all countries in the Middle East. It’s just too risky for most foreign investors.

As far as the future prospects of oil prices, it would appear that oil supplies are high enough to continue putting downward pressure on pricing. It seems the only way to curb falling prices is for OPEC to agree to massive production cuts. That said, it isn’t likely to happen because both Saudi and Iran are part of OPEC and neither would realize an advantage from such cuts. Also, OPEC doesn’t have the kind of economic influence over the oil market like it did in 1970s and 80s.