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About the AuthorRich Robinson is the CEO and publisher of Rise News. He is also a journalist and a native of Miami. Robinson graduated from the University of Alabama and can be followed on Twitter @RichRobMiami.
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By John Massey
Some American flyboys are in Finland this month, in an effort to remind Russian President Vladimir Putin where his country’s borders really are.
The 123rd Fighter Squadron, based out of Portland, Oregon, is participating in exercises in Finland over the course of this month.
The F-15Cs of the 123rd will be assisting in improving the readiness of the Finnish Air Force, who has seen an increase in its necessity due to an increase in Russian airspace violations of sovereign airspace.
Finland is not a member of NATO, but has been a participant in the Partnership for Peace program, as well as assisting in ISAF operations in Afghanistan, and participating in NATO exercises, as demonstrated below.
The ongoing crisis in Ukraine has solidified North American and European security interests to a degree that may even exceed that of the height of the Cold War.
This in turn has lead to an interest among some to extend the NATO security umbrella.
This has led most recently to Montenegro’s invitation to the alliance, and some suggestions that Sweden and Finland consider alliance membership.
Both Sweden and Finland have historically followed a policy of neutrality, but this has not been entirely adhered to.
Sweden has had intelligence sharing agreements with NATO states since 1954, as well as relying on NATO capabilities in the event of war against the Soviet Union, and in more recent times against simulated Russian airstrikes.
Both countries participate in NATO exercises, and operations, as well as having strong relations with both Denmark and Norway; both founding members of the Atlantic Alliance.
However, the two countries are not equally open to formally joining the alliance.
The Swedish public has rapidly shifted in favor of NATO membership, with 41% in favor, 39% opposed, and 20% undecided as of late 2015. While Finnish support for NATO membership is at a historical high, only 27% support membership.
This is why the American deployment of aircraft into non ally Finland is such a strong signal.
The Americans may be showing a preview of the kind of commitment they would offer if Finland joined NATO.
By creating stronger military and diplomatic ties with Finland through interactions between the 123rd with Finnish units, and other NATO-Finland interactions, the case for affiliation becomes more concrete.
That does not make the Portland based unit’s sale easy.
Greater affiliation with the EU and NATO has historically lead to an increase in likelihood for Russian counter actions, ala the 2008 Russia-Georgia War, and the two year old ongoing fiasco in Ukraine.
It is essentially out of the question that Finland join without Sweden, or vice versa. In addition to the two countries having strong historical ties, as well as sharing a highly convenient border to ferry troops and material over in the event of Russian intervention into Finland, while Sweden joining with Finland might trigger a response against neutral Finland, in order to guarantee buffer space against the perceived NATO threat.
The Oregon Air National Guard is thus pulling double duty in appealing to both the remaining non aligned Scandinavian countries, as well as improving Finland’s unilateral readiness.
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Student groups at the University of Mississippi in Oxford will rally Friday afternoon in order to bring attention to a cause they believe is worthy of national attention the removal of the state flag from the campus.
Mississippi is the only state in the Union that still has the Confederate battle flag as part of the official state flag. Georgia was the second to last state to rid its state flag of Confederate iconography and did so in 2003.
At 12:30 CST on Friday, numerous progressive student groups and those associate with minority including the campus chapter of the NAACP will be rallying in front of a well-known Confederate Statue in the Circle, a historical central location on campus.
The organizations, which include the Black Student Union, UM Pride Network, College Democrats and others want the Associated Student Body, the student government of Ole Miss to pass a resolution that would call for the removal of the state flag from campus.
Allen Coon is a student senator and also the president of the campus College Democrats chapter. He authored the resolution and has helped organize the event.
As a native Mississippian, the fight is a personal one for Coon.
“I love my state and I care about it deeply. But every-time, I see that flag it reminds me that we are promoting a perspective that led to a war of injustice and pain,” Coon said in a phone interview with Rise News. “And that’s not representative of my Mississippi and that’s why it has to change.”
According to the Daily Mississippian, there are 49 student senators in the Associated Student Body. That would mean that at least 25 of them would have to vote in favor of taking down the flag in order for the resolution to pass. Coon told Rise News that it would be a difficult fight to win the vote in the student senate.
“If this resolution fails, then it will bring a lot more scrutiny on the campus from a national perspective,” Coon said. “The very test of a symbol is that it should be divisive. On that basis alone, it is grounds enough to take down the flag.”
“When people think of Ole Miss I don’t want them to think, ‘oh that’s a racist school,’” Buka Okoye, the president of the Ole Miss NAACP said in an interview with Daily Mississippian reporter Dawn Boddie. “Therefore, what are we doing to rid ourselves of that image?”
According to the Mississippi Business Journal, five other public universities in the state do not currently fly the official state flag: Delta State University, Mississippi State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi Valley State University and Alcorn State University.
Even if student government passes the resolution, it will be up to campus administrators to make the final decision.
Rise News is looking for a few Ole Miss students to report for us during the rally on Friday afternoon. If you are interested then please email email@example.com with a phone number and we will get back to very quickly.
Read: Proposed Ole Miss student government resolution to take down state flag on campus
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Former prime minister Amama Mbabazi, who is running as an independent candidate in Uganda’s presidential election in February, is likely to cross paths with President Yoweri Museveni on January 10 in Mbale district. The president is running under the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) banner. Whereas Mr Mbabazi will be in Mbale to campaign, President Museveni… Read MorePost Views: 83
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