The Supreme Court just dealt a blow to the Center for Medical Progress, a California-based anti-abortion group that released a series of videos in which Planned Parenthood employees appear to discuss the sale of fetal tissue. David Daleiden, the pro-life auteur behind the videos, asked Justice Anthony Kennedy to block an order from a district judge…
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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.
Cover Photo Credit: U.S. Army Europe Images/Flickr (CC by 2.0)Post Views: 683
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In a gay nightclub, 49 lives were taken because a crazy and hateful person had legal access to a weapon of mass destruction.
The shooter, Omar Mir Seddique Mateen proclaimed his support for ISIS, pointed his licensed assault rifle at the bodies of innocent people, and shot.
Those are the facts. It was an attack of terror and hate, and is yet another example of how guns have caused so much damage to this country.
All eyes have been on the presidential candidates to see how they respond to this public safety crisis.
In an interview on Meet the Press, Bernie Sanders explained the necessity to regulate guns in order to avoid the wrong people from accessing them, and to do away with assault rifles.
“We should not be selling automatic weapons which are designed to kill people”.
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Hilary Clinton advocated for gun control and “defeating international terror groups”. She also expressed her support for the LGBTQ community and a determination to eradicate these kinds of hate crimes in America.
Trump, as to be assumed, took a different approach. He used the attack to reiterate his campaign to ban Muslims from entering the US, (clearly not keeping in mind that Mateen was an American citizen born in New York), and reprimanded Obama and Hilary for remaining “politically correct” and avoiding the phrase “radical Islam”.
It was no surprise that Trump took a racist approach to this tragedy, however a potential fear is that many Americans who are traumatized from this attack could be persuaded by his words.
So far, on Twitter, most have voiced their disgust with Trump’s comments, but the real question asks if this is what it would take for more Americans to get behind Trumps bigoted and hateful campaign against Muslims?
When horrible things happen and people are afraid, they revert into a defensive mode, determined to obtain protection and justice.
These are valid feelings in mourning, but they are dangerous in the hands of Donald Trump. He is manipulative and driven, and that is a deadly combination.
Tension within Americans towards Muslims has been a lingering issue since 9/11. It ebbs and flows with each given current event.
It is a kind of irrational fear that can cause people to advocate for the wrong things. It is clear that Trump recognizes people’s eagerness to feel safer, and is using that to promote his motion for a temporary ban of Muslims in the country.
But this is not unusual, and this was to be expected. The real fear is how many people will he convince and how will it affect this election?
Trump has made this an issue of political correctness. He believes that the term “radical Islam” is a phrase not used enough in our discourse and therefore allows things like this to happen.
But again, let’s look at the facts. Mateen was an American citizen, and his ex wife has explained that she does not feel this was religiously motivated as much as it was the outcome of him being mentally ill.
Mateen legally bought an assault rifle, a weapon clearly for more than one needs for hunting or protection. He was an American, and he murdered people out of hatred.
The so called “praise” that Trump is receiving for predicting this horrific event is not only insensitive, repulsive, and narcissistic, but it is also false.
Religion is an ideology that has a great deal of power over a people. Many terrorist attacks have been executed at the hands of radicals sometimes related to the Islamic nation, but often they are not.
Terrorism is defined as the use of violence and intimidation for a political aim. In Colorado Springs when Robert Lewis, a white man from South Carolina shot up a Planned Parenthood, that was political, that was terrorism.
In fact, between 1982 and 2015, out of the 72 mass shootings in America, 44 of the shooters were white. However, Trump is not advocating to ban Lewis and all white people.
Terrorism is a domestic and foreign issue. It does not end if a people are cast out of this country and oppressed for their religion. Guns are easily accessible and end up in the hands of unstable individuals.
In his speech for the Orlando shooting, Obama said, “America has to decide what kind of country it wants to be”. If it were up to Trump, we would be a country driven by hate and racism. Guns would remain accessible and people would continue to be murdered by the hundreds each year; but there would be no Muslim Americans.This is a violent and unacceptable way of thinking.
The numbers are there and clearly show that the real problem is guns and an undeniably stubborn culture that revolves around them.
This is a tragedy beyond consoling. The victims of the Orlando shooting were targeted out of hate and murdered because a mentally ill man had access to an assault rifle. This is the poignant issue of this massacre.
Unfortunately, because of the general hate and fear of Muslims in this country, Trumps sentiments could potentially serve as a dangerous outlet for enraged Americans, and will allow the topic of gun control to once again fall silent.
There are no words to console the victims and their families after this massacre. Cynically, it appears that if the Sandy Hook shooting did not change people’s feelings about guns, perhaps nothing will.
But right now, Americans are in a powerful position to stop a man filled with bigotry and callousness from becoming President and oppressing people in the same ways a fascist dictator once had.
This event is frightening, but our fear cannot be directed in the wrong places. We simply cannot afford to give in to such ways of thought.
Instead, we must stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community, discuss productive methods to avoid something like this happening again, and evaluate the kind of country we want to either remain as, or become.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.Cover Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)Post Views: 414
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Broward School Board Candidate Posts Video Of Moldy Classrooms And Wet Floors At Hallandale Beach Elementary School
What’s New With This Story:
-Broward County School Board candidate Elijah Manley posted a video to his campaign Facebook page which purports to show mold and severe water damage inside multiple Gulfstream Academy of Hallandale Beach classrooms.
-Manley claims that the video was taken by a Gulfstream Academy teacher on November 21, 2017.
-The teacher did not want to be publicly identified for fear of retaliation.
-Broward County Public Schools have been in the headlines in recent months due to allegations of widespread mold problems at various county schools.
Elijah Manley, an 18 year old candidate for Broward County School Board made waves on social media today after he published a video that he said was taken by a teacher at Gulfstream Academy of Hallandale Beach.
The video shows a woman going from room to room narrating issues she finds along the way.
Some of the things seen in the video?
A broken window, wet floors, wet electrical boxes and water stains on roof tiles.
The woman in the video also says that she smells mold and thinks that mold in growing under the wet floors.
Manley said that the video was taken on November 21 by a teacher at the school. He then said that the teacher posted the video to a group chat that Manley is part of, on Sunday.
Manley then posted the video to Facebook.
He said that he spoke to the teacher who recorded the video today but said that she did not want to go publicly on the record.
Manley, who is running for an at-large seat on the School Board said he posted the video because he wanted to draw attention to the problem.
“A lot of the other candidates aren’t talking about it at all,” Manley said. “Now, they can’t deny it.”
Broward County schools have been the subject of recent international headlines after allegations of widespread mold issues caused hundreds to get sick.
In a statement, Broward County Schools said that the video shows a part of the school that is not used to educate children and that it is several weeks old.
Here is the full statement:
“Broward County Public Schools takes all matters concerning the upkeep, maintenance and repair of school facilities seriously, and is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of students and staff. Per the District’s Facilities & Construction Management Department, the video does not reflect repair and restoration work that has already been completed – with many of the images taken prior to the now completed work. Furthermore, the video includes images from some areas that are currently unoccupied (not being used by students or staff) due to ongoing repair work. The building has also undergone roof restoration work within the last 60 days. Additional interior and exterior restoration and repair work is ongoing and scheduled for completion by the end of the upcoming winter break. Once again, the District is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all students and staff.”
RISE NEWS has reached out to a spokesperson for the Broward County Teacher’s Association but we could not get an official statement before the time of publication. The principal of Gulfstream Academy could not be reached before publication time.
We will update this story as it develops.
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