Last week Kim Jong Nam, the son of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, was assassinated according to Malaysian police. Kim Jong Nam died shortly after two women put a substance on his face while he was checking in for a flight. Police have not said how the women were able to apply the nerve agent to Kim’s face and also avoid becoming ill themselves. The seeming contradiction of a poison that could kill him quickly but not sicken the attackers has stumped experts. A statement from the inspector general of police said that a preliminary analysis from the Chemistry Department of Malaysia identified the agent as “VX Nerve Agent.”
When I heard the news events regarding Kim Jong Nam I couldn’t help but think, “this is like a 007 film in real life.” The scary world of missile test launches just took a back seat causing the world to become a whole lot more terrifying. Just think for one moment that every bomb terror plot or dirty nuclear device that our nation heavily investigates and monitors now has to deal with a potential military grade nerve agent that can kill unmonitored within seconds. What makes this story interesting is that it was quickly administered with the potential to expose others in a public area such as an airport. Look for a moment at the diplomatic chaos it has stirred. Is Homeland Security prepared for this new threat both domestic and internationally? Maybe on paper, but perhaps not as prepared as we may think.
My question is, “was this a test of a new terrorism threat to airport security?” If so, how will airports or security experts deal with detecting nerve agents as a threat from public places? But another question is where did this nerve agent come from? It has been since the 1960’s since nerve agents were widely identified. Ask any soldier from the Cold War Era, and they will mention stories about Nerve Agent Treatment Autoinjector training scenarios. The threat was real until Congress banned nerve agents in 1972. 32,000 tons of nerve and mustard agents had already been dumped into the ocean waters off the United States. Currently, Russia stockpile of nerve agents is still available but lacks the money and resource to destroy it. Perhaps this is the footprint from where an international investigation should begin? But that is likely to occur due to the current relations between the United States and Russia.
I would suggest that Congress and the United Nations begin an accountability audit of nerve agent nation facilities immediately. This is not the time to point fingers at how the nerve agent was acquired or used. It is a time to place steps and practices, so this horrible event doesn’t escalate into a catastrophic incident. If I were the Director of the CIA, I would be concerned how a nation such as Malaysia has a military grade nerve agent on its land. What if this nerve agent was in a small container on a plane bound for the United States? Do we have the technology to intercept it? These are the questions that you and I should be concerned about.
If you asked me a year ago about immigration reform, I would probably shrug my shoulders as if immigration issues don’t really affect me. Ask me today, and my answer will demonstrate an out of control point. A close friend of mine recently had a car accident where another motorist ran a red light t-boning his car. He was injured, and both cars were totaled. What makes this interesting is the person that was at fault was in the United States illegally driving someone else’s driver license with expired license plates under a fictitious company name and no insurance. Needless to say, it is a messy situation. The driver was arrested but released on bond and never showed up to court leaving the insurance company to sort it all out. The police officer that arrived at the court said he has dozens of similar cases mounting to frustrations, but his department is prohibited from making minor traffic infraction stops for fear of profiling.
I am mindful that this case could be a small portion of issues versus an entire migrant population that does obey the law. However, I am surrounded by illegal pop-up businesses in my neighborhood. It is so bad that county inspectors come to cite improper business operations without a license or permit only to have the inspector be greeted by someone that doesn’t speak English or a different person on each visit. The homeowner who doesn’t exist receives unanswered mail. The county inspector I recently spoke with said, “I have thousands of such infractions that have overwhelmed our department. All we can do is flag the property tax records to collect.” Many of the homes with illegal businesses have children born in the United States making them immediate citizens while the parents are the ones here more than likely illegally. It is a huge dilemma that places innocent children and parenting at risk begging the question of how to remedy the immigration problem?
Another issue in our neighborhood is Hispanic gang activity. To be honest, I was unaware of this activity until police began hinting at organized crimes where innocent people are gunned down to clear neighborhoods to make them Hispanic or Latino only. A recent violent parking lot robbery only blocks from my home have put my community on high alert. I fear that because there is a division between Hispanics, African Americans, and Caucasians. The tension is growing because of hit and run accidents, graffiti on homes or stop signs, break-ins, and violent crime. It seems that when an arrest is made and a deportation order is rendered that the person disappears into the system only to reappear later under another false pretense of an assumed name. Our town has seen too many repeat offenders that were deported only to return within the year. To me, this is nothing more than a form of organized crime.
Personally, I want everyone to have a chance at the American Dream. But I do have an expectation and prioritization that those that applied and provided due diligence in the official application process be granted priority. Those that bypassed the process should, in my opinion, go straight to an immigration jail. There are rules and procedures for a reason. I think it is time to revamp our naturalization laws with regards to birthing rights. Your parents must be American if you are born in the United States. If the laws are good enough for our allies, then it should be good enough for us. I am not trying to close the door on immigration. Instead, I suggest that we have a door that opens and closes. The current immigration door appears to be propped open with no guard at the door checking to make sure that those that meet our basic immigration standard are allowed into the United States.
When we think of terrorism in today’s news, we may immediately turn our attention to terror groups as Al Qaeda or ISIS. That is because our media attention seems focused on terror campaigns combined with diplomacy and military operations. The focus on Syria highlights how terror can spiral out of control to the point of nearly being all out chaos. To combat terror, there are many plans and options. Finding the perfect plan never seems within reach. But what if I told you that the next terror wave that could hit the United States was not Al Qaeda or ISIS. What if I mentioned the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)?
Ask any American citizen if they have ever heard of FARC and they may laugh at the acronym or roll their eyes. But FARC has been around for decades and been a thorn in the side of American-led operations in South America. FARC activities feed on unorthodox methods of terror aimed to spread its information about communism or anti-capitalism. If you think this terror organization is small or doesn’t pose a threat, then you are very misled. The United Nations has published reports that FARC is responsible for nearly 14% of deaths in Columbia alone aimed at spreading terror. Now FARC is making its presence known in the country of Venezuela. The United States relies on some oil exports from Venezuela as well as most South American nations. If FARC can disrupt Venezuela causing the country to starve then what do you think will happen to the youth that has no jobs and spread hatred about the United States? While Immigration and Enforcement may profile Middle Easterners and Mexican nationals, it may have a truly difficult time identifying FARC terrorists.
How does FARC arrive in the United States? There will be no need for FARC terrorists to sneak over the border illegally. FARC has been around for a long time and knows how to use the existing system but acquire weapons and other terror materials on the black market. FARC doesn’t use videos or propaganda to get its message across. Its tactics according to Columbia is to send its manifestos to the local media about why it bombed or committed acts of terror. Its message is simple and to the point. Most of all it’s almost a Robin Hood style of propaganda. Take from the rich and give to the poor. Therefore FARC could become a bigger threat with youth and certain gangs. The current administration seems laser focused on Muslim based terror, when, in my opinion, the bigger threat may be in our own backyard.
The reason I bring up FARC today is that terror is all around us. It is not isolated to religious issues. FARC can be much worse for domestic terror issues because of snap policies that may hurt Mexico, Central, and South America. Our influence in that region has diminished and lost its way since the invasion of Panama. This is where FARC may rear its head with a propaganda of hatred and scorn for rash American policies that appear directed towards the Latino community. If Latinos feel scared in the United States now, how do you think FARC will respond to the United States to send its message? This is what I fear and perhaps should concern you as well.
I could not help but take a moment and think about the people of Syria. There has been a war where innocent civilians have been in the middle of fighting by ISIS, rebels, government forces, and Russian troops. This complex powder keg of ill-planned democracy versus instabilities will not go away anytime soon. Many Syrians have fled, are attempting to escape or still trapped either by bureaucratic red tape and fear based skepticism.
The Syrian War has been going on since 2011. What that indicates to me is that a child that manages to survive brutal battles or skirmishes could be a teenager or young adult today. With the American rhetoric about immigrants or refugees that could quickly calculate as a recipe of skeptics towards democracy as for the wealthy or perhaps based on your religious beliefs. After all, it is the remaining male dominated fighters that pass on its beliefs, policies, prejudices, and stories to Syrian youth. Therefore based on that examination the cycle of distrust and conflict will manifest and continue. Eventually, it will come back to possibly haunt us later on.
What about the basic health needs of Syrian citizens? No food, no medicine, no mental health providers, no housing, no jobs, no infrastructure, and no education or place of worship are a constant problem. Where does America or those that point fingers at Syria think those children that are born today will be in another ten years during a reconstruction period? What stories will they be told about America and the people of the United States? I am quite confident that the stories won’t be very positive and may lead to additional problems ahead if we sit idle and do nothing to help the nation. What about the health issues? It is only a matter of time before disease and epidemic conditions migrate towards other countries and eventually spread to the United States. Just isolating Syrians is not the answer. Immersing ourselves with compassion and generosity may open more doors of opportunity. Yet, we still do nothing. I fear that Syria will become similar to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.
Regardless of your political ideology and religious belief. It’s time to step forward and take a greater role of action to help the people of Syria. If we begin today, we can mitigate the potential fallout of the future. Religion, policies, and indifferences are not our enemy; time is our enemy. The longer we wait, the more costly it will become.
Tomorrow is Valentines Day. Personally, I have never taken an enormous interest in valentine’s events. However, the event originates from Christianity, but its exact origin remains a mystery. Despite what historians have to say about Valentines Day to be sure a good marketing company can destroy that history within a few seasons.
Of course, this particular day is intended to be filled with romance, chocolates, dinners of appreciation and of course a few marriage proposals. The reality is that Valentines has captured some creative stresses that dinner reservations are not found, flowers failed to be delivered, and those that basically forgot because of the daily stresses of work. Missing a Valentines Day is nearly equal to forgetting your wedding anniversary. I have friends that have said, “Getting ready for Valentines can be exhausting. Once the dinner is over with all I can think about is going straight to bed and falling asleep.” Yep, folks, it has come to Valentines is nearly equal to New Year’s Eve and Christmas Day. Once the moment arrives, we want to just sleep in. Gone is the romantic excitement or the wooing of your partner.
Sure, there are young couples that live for the Valentines moment. Overall it is a beautiful experience for those entering first loves and firm commitments. But the excess and indulgence can leave one a bit exhausted and overwhelmed. That leads to the question of how do you outdo yourself next season? This is where our creativity and wallet becomes a bit overextended, and eventually, the event subsides.
Perhaps Valentines Day is a reminder that we should take the time to remember commitments and love towards our partner. But I argue that we should be mindful of loving events not just once a year but all year round. We live in a social media world filled with unsocial technology that clouds our viewpoints. A simple, “I love you” should be enough to mean and accept a commitment. If you want more, feel free to splurge the excess of commercialization filled with marketing phrases that intend to lead to a special event, but it’s the company talking, not your partner. Perhaps we should focus on each other rather than what someone else writes on a box of chocolates.
Recently President Trump introduced a replacement for the high court. I wasn’t anxious about who Trump selected. What I was a bit concerned and perhaps disturbed about was how the selection was made. Nearly a year ago today U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died. That left an open seat and plenty of time for a replacement to be introduced. Politicians like Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell blocked every pathway creating an obstruction from an Obama appointment. Fast forward to today, and the same leadership is claiming obstruction and delay by the Democratic Party. This is nothing more than politics as usual.
I think what bothers me the most about Washington politics is that the levels of obstruction and abuses of power. Most of all the lies or “alternative facts” that don’t ever seem to go away. For example, McConnell and Cruz once said that if Hillary Clinton were elected President that they would hold up any nominee. But if the Democratic party holds up a candidate that Trump will demand a nuclear option to force his choice. At this point in American politics, I don’t see the American people becoming divided. Instead, I view Congress is purposely dividing Americans and damaging the future of politics.
Ever since I can remember I was never supportive of congressional term limits. My reasoning was that term limits could potentially do harm to an efficient government. Today my attitude has changed because Congress has created an iron clad good old boy system that doesn’t have an ability to represent people. Instead, it serves selfish interests. Perhaps we should do away with the Electoral College system and replace it with a popular vote. Today’s politics no longer has a desire to maintain historical precedent and legislative compromise. Politicians are destroying the American fabric of democracy.
I am a citizen that agrees that our borders have some questionable holes. But I am also aware that companies are the ones that exploit those holes by illegally hiring undocumented workers. I am mindful of the fact that bureaucracy can be good for government. But aware that politicians abuse power for their own agenda. I know that there are checks and balances required of the people and government. But mindful of the fact that citizens enjoy popularism rather than democratic and fair law. Congress, in my opinion, is burning the bridges of democracy and the foundations of our society. I worry that at some point all these dominos will eventually fall leaving us somewhat similar to how Communism fell over a decade ago. Perhaps I am asking, “when is our Perestroika?”
I don’t wish to sound like a conspiracy theorist. Such sounding rhetoric does not add to any credibility. But President Trump seems a bit hell bent on sending us into a possible war with just about anyone. Trump sent out a recent Twitter message to Iran with an “all options response are on the table” ending. This only eludes that the United States has a plan to use force or strong military action.
Okay, for the sake of argument lets say that something does happen and the United States shells an Iranian Navy ship or patrol boat. It’s safe to say that that’s all it would take to incite an Iranian response. Now, let’s mix that powderkeg immigration policy that seems to play into the hands of Al-Qaeda where I fear that terror cells already in the United States and abroad will begin their campaigns. It as if Trump had a plan to flush terror plots quickly which will, in turn, require a substantial funding for military operations. This is where a Wag The Dog moment becomes quietly historical. Terror incidents mixed with a potential Iranian conflict will be a headliner. The best kept Trump secret is when our NATO allies are not 100% on board with something that was agitated in general. Therefore I predict that Trump will lean in towards Russia for some cooperative assistance as a gesture of improved partnerships.
What all these military actions, at least in theory, are spattered all over the headline news. Quietly in the background, the dismantling of Obamacare and other highly politized issues will never have the chance to make a front line news. Naturally, Trump has a clever way of controlling the media with his Twitter account and diverting important issues to be back burner. I feel this is what we should expect to become as a Trump strategy. But if NATO becomes divided between international and incited domestic issues is where Trump may fracture the NATO alliance and shift chaos to the United Nations. We may quietly witness historical UN declarations and possible sanctions for the first time levied against the United States. Again, this is all speculative but plausible based on the path some are witnessing.
Our nation is still attempting to recover from a historical market crash from a Republican-led administration. We had two separate wars going on not to mention some questionable situations with other host nations. Our banking institutions and corporations were at the brink of collapse. It took nearly another presidential two terms to reduce that debt. Are we to repeat another war-like effort just to “get it over with” and have another President spend his/her time to mitigate that issue? It seems and smells like another national disaster in the making leaving the United States and its citizens to clean up the mess all over again.