President Obama will be the first sitting president to appear on the cover of a LGBT magazine.
Out Magazine, named Obama Ally of the Year because of the transformative progress in the LGBT community during his terms, according to Out.com.
#BarackObama is the 1st U.S. president to be photographed for an #LGBT publication: https://t.co/bAo1A8CwYL #Out100 pic.twitter.com/Tdd8KJtKqq
— Out Magazine (@outmagazine) November 10, 2015
“One of the reasons I got involved in politics was to help deliver on our promise, that we’re all created equal,” said Obama during an interview with Out. “That’s why, in the Senate, I supported repealing DOMA [the Defense of Marriage Act]. It’s why, when I ran for president the first time, I publicly asked for the support of the LGBT community, and promised that we could bring about real change for LGBT Americans.”
After Out tweeted the announcement, Twitter was flooded tweets favoring Out’s decision.
@outmagazine @LoniLove @BarackObama my President is President of the people
— Mahoodie (@mahoodie3) November 10, 2015
The editor-in-chief of Out Magazine, Aaron Hicklin’s full interview with Obama details everything from what set the stage for the momentous gay marriage decision on June 26, 2015 to how he parents Sasha and Malia in the topic of homosexuality.
Obama joins other Out100’s most influential people like Michael Keaton, Joe Zee, Michael Kors and Candis Cayne.
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Could The Suwalki Gap Be A Future Flashpoint Between Russia And NATO?By John Massey
An approximately 60 mile stretch of land separates the Russian district of Kaliningrad, from the country of Belarus. It just so happens that this stretch of land is the border between Poland and Lithuania, and one of the most militarized regions in Europe.
As a result, this area has been called by some within the defense community “the New Fulda Gap“, referring to the presumed flashpoint of conflict between NATO and the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War.
Kaliningrad is a small Russian enclave separated from the rest of the country, and nestled between the Baltic Sea, Poland, and Lithuania. It was awarded to Russia in the Potsdam Accords of 1945, and functions as the home base for the Baltic Fleet. As the Kremlin continues takes an adversarial view of NATO, a heavily armed garrison in the district would seem a rational act. This is precisely what they’ve done by positioning several brigades as well as a Motor Rifle Regiment in the territory.
This in itself is not an overtly aggressive move. The Russian Government has just as much a right to defend its territory as any other.
However, the Lithuanian Minister of National Defense Juozas Olekas, said that the types of units being moved to Kaliningrad in large numbers are a threat to the Baltic States.
The Minister reports that “there are 30,000-35,000 troops, two mechanized brigades, armored vehicles in the hundreds rather than the dozens… Moreover, Kaliningrad hosts huge air defense forces. The older complexes get replaced by new and modern ones. Their range is rather extensive, over 400 kilometres.”
Olekas also claims that there is intelligence to suggest the deployment of SS-26 “Stone” ballistic missiles in Kaliningrad which are potentially capable of striking targets at 400 km, with a target accuracy of 5-7m.
An evolution of the infamous “Scud”, this system would be capable of destroying Command and Control Systems, landed aircraft, artillery, and civilian infrastructure. The Baltic States are understandably worried that their key advantages of superior organization and airpower could be knocked out.
Olekas is not the only one worried about Russian capabilities in the Baltic.
Lt. General Ben Hodges, who commands US Army Forces in Europe, recently said that the potential for conflict in the gap as something that keeps him up at night.
According to Hodges, the growing frequency of unannounced Russian military exercises in both Belarus and Kaliningrad can be viewed as a potential scenario to snatch the Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, before their allies can muster a coherent response.
Lt. General John Nicholson, Commander of Allied Land Command concurs with Hodges’ fears but cites recent exercises, attended by Russian observers, as demonstrating NATO’s ability to “mobilize brigades and divisions within days”, further underlining the primary mission of the Alliance, deterrence.
Hodges went on to tell NBC News that there is no immediate reason for the Russians to seize the Baltic States, but notes that he was also taken aback by recent Russian adventures in Ukraine and Syria.
Retired General Bob Scales also has some fears related to NATO’s ability to respond to a crisis in the Baltic States. In a recent interview with Ryan Evans of War on the Rocks, Scales said that he has fears that Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty (the provision which calls for mutual defense of members under attack) has a credibility problem.
The claim is that NATO members, in particular Germany, Britain, France, and the United States, would not come to the aid of an alliance member further East, and recent Pew polling among people in NATO countries lends some credence to this fear.
Scales went further to note that NATO has eroded its ability to project on land over the last fifteen years, and while “this is not the Cold War”, and “the Russian military is not what it used to be”, he is adamant that the mission of deterrence is not being adequately filled, and that Anti Ship Missiles in Kaliningrad being able to block off the entire Baltic sea from NATO’s superior naval forces negate that advantage.
Scales did not request a hike in defense spending from the United States, suggesting that a “modest repositioning of existing American forces” would be sufficient.
Such an adventure into the Baltics is likely not going to occur in the near future. RISE NEWS has previously reported on the problems the Russian military has had in recent years with its ability to project. However some unknown rift in the future could ignite this flashpoint.
The immediate objective and cause would not be known to us, but the Grand Strategy objective would be, according to Western understandings of Russian Grand Strategy and history, would be to secure space between Russia and the presumably hostile NATO forces.
This is due to Russia’s industrial and agricultural core being concentrated in the European section of the country.
This seeking of space is a result of several invasions of Russia by aggressive actors to both the East and West, including but not limited to: Germany, Sweden, France, Britain, and the Mongols over the course of history.
Space is therefore a geopolitical imperative when Russia feels threatened. As is the case with Russia’s current adventure in Ukraine, so too could be the case at the Suwalki Gap.
This line of thinking is why NATO expansion is a contentious issue. On the one hand, NATO expansion causes the Kremlin to fear NATO forces crashing through their borders, and annihilating the state.
On the other hand, Article V protection deincentivizes Russian adventures in neighboring states, due to the collective protection offered by the Alliance.
The validity of Russian fears of NATO, much like the validity of the fear of Russians seizing the Baltic States, is irrelevant. What is important is that these fears exist, and are real to those who have them and shape policy.
Working through these issues should then be the key objective of European policy, preferably without “little green men” in Estonia Latvia and Lithuania.
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Millennial Intelligencer: Meet JEF, The UK’s Latest Measure to Shape International SecurityBy John Massey
On Nov 30th, British Defense Minister Michael Fallon committed the UK to a leading role in the freshly designed Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF).
This force, composed of: the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, and Norway, will be a 10,000 strong unit designed to cooperate with NATO, EU, and UN operations.
JEF will be able to respond to a variety of missions including deterrence, interstate conflict, and humanitarian crises.
There has also been some speculation of Sweden participating in JEF, as the Swedish government continues its increasingly robust affiliation with the Atlantic Security system.
When looking at the list of countries taking part in this UK lead endeavor, one notices two things:
- All of the current contributors are NATO members, and potential contributor Sweden is greatly affiliated with NATO.
- This is a UK lead venture. While France and Britain have a similar integrated reaction force, the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF), the most prominent member of NATO, the US is missing from these recent arrangements.
The establishment of these reaction forces, in addition to the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), potentially indicate a shift in European defense responsibilities in response to increased Russian adventurism, and the American “Pivot to Asia”.
Thus, Britain attempting to shift the weight onto its own shoulders is in keeping with historical precedents from 1950-1955.
In Anthony Eden’s account of the period in “Full Circle”, American Secretary of State John Foster Dulles threatened an “agonizing reappraisal” of American security policy should West Germany not be integrated into the European security infrastructure.
This was followed by the personal commitment of Prime Minister Eden to finding a diplomatic solution, and the commitment of four British divisions under international direction.
The addition of the West Germans into the Atlantic Alliance, due to the hard work by Her Majesty’s Government, convinced the Eisenhower administration that Europe was worth investing resources to balance against the Soviets.
Likewise, in the establishment of these various European reaction forces, Britain is taking the lead in directing European Security policy.
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And I Still BelieveBy My Nguyen
If you travel to another Asian or African country and ask local people: “Which country do you think is the best for education/ health care/ services or everything?”, the most common answer probably is “America”.
It has become normal for people with means in developing countries to “go to America” to study, to do surgery or even to live.
And many of these people do not bother to question the validity of this seem-to-be stereotype- the idea that America is the greatest country on Earth.
I still believe in that stereotype.
To me it is a truth.
Despite everything that has happened in the past few months, America is still a place that I deeply believe in.
I am not American or processed to be an American.
I have been in the U.S. for almost two years to pursue higher education.
I want to be close to my family – who is at home, so at least until now, I have no plans or intentions to be an American after I finish my degree.
But I admire this country, or more exactly, I admire its people.
I do not remember being called an “Asian whore” or told to “get back to your tiny dirty place” by random people on the street.
I only remember being helped with my oversized luggage by random people at the train station.
I only remember being welcomed home for Thanksgiving by my roommate’s family.
I only remembered being tirelessly encouraged and inspired by my American professors.
They are good people and they are American.
The bad ones are simply bad.
And the good always wins.
You win when you have democracy.
This country is based on democratic ideals which takes over each individual’s mind and soul.
You have both rights and abilities to stand for your nation and your own democracy.
It is not easy to call for a change, especially an expansive and impactful one.
But it happens in America.
When enough people, regardless of their political or social positions, acknowledge the need of change, they join together and strive together with all of their power and strengths, to make a change.
This is how your freedom is protected and trust me, not many people over the world can have it and keep it.
You also win when you can say “NO”.
You can say “no” to what does not appeal to you.
You can say “no” to what goes against your ethics.
You can say “no” to what hurts your definition of humanity. Y
ou can say “no” because it is simply not you.
It is a privilege, but also a duty.
Do not say “no” to people. Say “no” to things, wrong things, need-to-be-stopped things
. Say an appropriate, reasonable, ethical “no”, even when everyone else say “yes”.
You win when you can choose to stand when everyone else is flowing.
There is nothing such as “give up”, “surrender” or “follow the majority” in America.
Your stance is protected. Your ideal is kept alive.
You can decide to accept or deny, to support or oppose, to love or hate, to defend or abolish.
You can resist when being forced to do something you don’t want to do.
You can fight when being oppressed.
Most importantly, you are respected and appreciated for your individuality, for your difference.
You win when you act on your heart, mind and soul.
You win when you follow what you believe.
You can ignore the messy chaos out there and keep sitting in your office, do what you are supposed to do.
You can drive home, have a tasty dinner and enjoy your cozy coach with your Netflix on.
But if your heart asks you to get out there and fight, you fight, even for strangers, even for potential “economic burden and social danger”.
It is kind when someone responds to a call for help.
It is even kinder when someone searches for people in need to help.
You are being kind when you do this.
You are being an American.
Because Americans know what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong.
For some people, America may not be the best, the strongest, the biggest nation in the world, but no one can deny the enormous impact of this country to the global situation.
When same-sex marriage started to be recognized in many states, the world was celebrating.
You know why?
Because if it can happen in America, it can happen anywhere and it will.
America is believed by many non-Americans to be the first and then when something is brought here, it spreads its spirit to make the world a better place.
Yes, the rest of the world is watching you, America.
These days, a portion seems quite disappointed.
Some are enthusiastically mocking.
Others are ideally concerned.
The rest, including me, simply thinks: “Just leave them alone. They will figure it out themselves.”
You know what you have to do.
You know what you need to do.
And you know what you should do.
America has enough power and its people are armed with enough strengths to get over any bullshit to make what should be right, right again.
For all Americans who have decided to take fighting for everyone else, for humanity as your duty, even though your wage will not be raised, your house will not be surrounded by fences, and your children will share the same classroom with other kids whose hair, eyes and skin colors are all different
As a humble citizen of the world, I thank you.
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