What a storm! Thank goodness, FEMA will pitch in to recovery, but . . .

Mega-Storm

Satellite image of Sandy approaching the Mid-Atlantic area.

By Isis Win

Disclaimer: English is my second language and regardless of all my efforts, I fall short to master it in a way that I make myself easy to read. Please, be patient and hopefully you get the idea at the end of my text. However, feel free to leave any criticism, suggestion and comment. That will help me and expedite my learning of your wonderful but no so easy language. Thanks!

A perfect storm hits the east coast to teach many that we cannot assume life is free, safe and fun when it comes to mother nature. In fact, when we think of mother nature, although we can get awed by the beauty that most of us appreciate so much, it will do from time to time what it is due to do. Those other natural things that disagree with populated areas and lives. Scientist frequently have offered their opinion in this regard to bring consciousness about a natural global change that will onset what we have known historically. Weather patterns are changing and with them, disasters that although no new in our planet, today, they are unprecedented. This mega storm makes the case clearly. Nevertheless, although sadly it brought a loss of two dozen plus people and damage still is not truly evaluated, we know it is something that will take quite a long time to fix it. It is estimated that it will exceed the one billion dollars, perhaps two. Since we all are familiar with the caliber of this disaster, I will spare you from reading redundancy. Instead, I will like to address part of this mother nature reminder. Same that I blogged about, a year ago when Romney during a debate to gain the official republican nomination, stated that FEMA’s budget needed to be reconsidered and his statement clearly sounded like it should be reduced or removed. Our lower financial health is the number one national security threat. Managing our budget to pay off our national debt to foreign loans and reducing our growing deficit is a needed action to take place right away. Reducing or removing federal aid to FEMA would be as dramatic or worse than ignoring the budgetary problem or the mega storm itself. The voice that presented that scenario, is the voice of a business man who sees opportunity on simply shutting down an ill businesses and sell what is left as a scrap. Fine, if that works in that business but removing federal aid to the nation’s problem does not any promise eliminating that national threat. Interestingly, Romney’s supporters missed the eloquent value of that idiocy of his when addressing a needed federal change that he only could deliver. Today and again, he changed course and supports FEMA’s needs. He is going to do whatever he feels is necessary to grab the sit even if he does not mean what he says or he says what he doesn’t mean.

When Al-Qaeda attacked the Twin Towers, didn’t exclusively contemplated the immense loss of lives the caused. All involved well knew that in order to hurt the USA, putting the country in a precarious financial situation would do much more damage than anything else. Certainly there were huge financial losses as result of this attack. But the American resilience overcame this promptly and effectively. However, as well, that attack was an aggression that provoked action and such action will be reflected in a military response that would cost the US a fortune. This situation was so cleverly managed by extremists, that British and American intelligence gathered false information that pointed Saddam Hussein involved in the attack and that Iraq owned weapons of mass destruction. Even though the UN inspectors insisted that was not the case. Ten years later, not only we know that was false, but we added five thousand lives into our loses and financially, the US was in need of borrowing a few trillion dollars to finance the wars. We can look with positive eyes at this military effort if we wish. Using the fact that Hussein is no longer in power so there is no threat and as well that Bin Laden and some of his top people are no longer – adds to this justification that most would or will celebrate. But the financial damage is here and it will be extremely difficult and lengthy to fix. We will, as we had with many other troubles. It will require loads of compromises, perhaps sacrifices, such as a tax increase once the employment numbers improve but reducing the programs that usually are reduced such as education and FEMA in this case, will not pay off as the businesses that made several million dollars to Romney. However, there is one impending threat that nobody has anything to do with and no one can stop: Mother nature.
Whether we are passing through a man created global change or it is part of nature’s cycles, it is clear the natural disasters of the last decade or so, are beyond imagination and extremely costly. Those disasters will not cease for as long as the weather patterns do not return to the known old patterns. The presence of natural mega tragedies will continue happening and that not only will impose a grand amount of dollars costs but as well, will make unstable our economy every time a grand disaster happens. I bet you that couple of days the Stock Market closed, because Sandy, will cost several millions of dollars to investments.
We’ve seeing huge and strong hurricanes and many more that were usual. Uncanny sand storms, unbelievable rains producing massive floods, droughts unparalleled to our records, extreme temperatures. immense wild fires, and more. And there is no much we can do about it, but endure it. As if that would not be enough, our seven billion population make this tragedies a tremendous losses due to death and displacement of massive numbers of people. This has been happening all over the world not just here. And when these tragedies happen in other region of the world, although what we contribute to help those suffering nations is not significant compared to their tragedy, it adds to our financial toll. But we cannot close our eyes to the pain and suffering of the world. That is not the role of the most powerful nation in the world. Unless we don’t care for what the world perceives of USA. As well, we have to look at the secondary results of these disasters. Gasoline and food go up and even after the situation is normalized, they stay up. Take for instance, Florida recently faced one of the worse freezes in history. Citrus went up at least 50% or more. OK, demand is large, supply is low. However, the prices never went down after they resumed normal production. At least in the Mid-Atlantic area. Same with gas prices. Demand went up, prices went sky high. Demand went down and the small reduction of those prices does not reflect the prices we were paying at the pump when we consumed those lower levels.

The solution to the financial US problem only have one solution and that solution does not depend on our government. It depends on all of us. But the government can very well help to a point that we move in that direction. We need more professional people in all research, development and implementation fields to export our advances and goods. But that cost money. Tons of money and Romney, contrary to Obama will like to reduce the budget for education and related resources. We need millions of professionals that collect incomes in the six digit figures and create new businesses through new technologies. However, wise investors such as Romney, will only invest in secured profit operations and new technologies are not that secured. Unless they prove it over an extended time. Take for instance Facebook. Personally, I do not appreciate the contribution of Facebook, but I admit, my imagination falls short to envision the future benefits of Facebook. However, that new field grew faster than anything previously known. I became parallel to Microsoft, Cisco, Google and many more newer mega million businesses. But investments into Facebook are not moving as it would a share from Apple or Goggle, etc. What is the problem with the investors? The want a secured, sure and fast return. OK, everyone is entitled to do so but we cannot disregard the fact that the USA became what it is, thanks to those professionals, entrepreneurs, scientists and manufacturers and workers. Our most important task is to secure we continue doing so and before other nation wins that technology. China as we speak, is moving forward and faster than any other nation towards Wind Technology. Because Solindra failed we should not push that industry? Obama took a risk and didn’t pay off. Oh well, so what is next?

The legislative body now, specially with the coming elections, is holding Obama’s power and initiative, so he is unable to make drastic investments and subsides to newer technologies. Something that he promises to do if elected. I hope so, because I am sure there will be many more natural disasters and at some point we are going to need to relocate massive amounts of people (think the coast line), develop, create and build new technology in home building industries. As well, we need to do whatever it takes to insure our water supply and agricultural areas are well if we are punished again by mother nature. Natural disasters not only kill tons of people and produce massive costs, but does not allow to survive properly those that heavily depend on meeting ends in this bad economy.

The Obama administration was on top of Sandy. Hurray for Obama! At this point, a few important people are recognizing that this has been the storm of the century. I hope the worse that NY city faces ever! FEMA is ready to tackle the humongous task they have in their hands. Both legislative parties seem to be in agreement about providing the needed funds to FEMA and the rest is a matter of time. Hopefully we put this in the past promptly and likely we will forget about it during the election day. But we maybe thrown back into remembering it, depending on who is elected. We don’t need another Bush and Katrina. Hopefully, Obama receives the deserving credit for being there when he was needed and wins this election. As you can see, at this point I truly know who I am voting for. I am voting for progress, change and a future that we all can count on!

National Security Defense: Do we need more to cope with the threats of the 21st century?

By Isis Win

National security and the military budget has been under the microscope since I started to remember. Previous to the end of the Cold War, it was the largest  issue on the media and the minds of the global politically minded. Both super powers, the USA and USSR balanced their budgets at all times while bordering bankruptcy. The Cold War ended and the regular negotiations among the atomic weapons countries slowly but surely reduced the amount of nuclear heads and as well, the Huge cost of producing them and maintaining them. It was said often the Soviets could not properly maintain their nuclear arsenal due to the cost. Building a stronger and more capable armed forces never stop though. Technological progress has been a drive that the military always depend on. Although research aimed to achieve supremacy in the military field, that research as well benefited most average citizens in many areas. For instance, GPS is a technology developed and exclusively used by the military but today, even smart phones provide this very useful tool. As well, the medical field provided many advances that today are used in American civil hospitals. Nevertheless, the argument about military spending has always been a matter of debate and scrutiny. There are too many questions about this, but the number one has always been: Do we have enough? Are we better equipped and prepared that the rest of the world? A very difficult topic to be sort out without doing tons of research and confirmation of the found information. Some people tend to believe that the “enemy” is better equipped and prepared that us. But as well, most people believe that the supremacy that USA showed during the II WW and the Cold War still is a reality. So what is the truth?
I suppose no one would be surprised to known that all armed forces of all countries will not fully reveal their true power. Such is the assumed case of China. That, because it is up to each country to report their arsenal, armed forces numbers etc to the International Community and in compliance with international treaties. But would you be surprised to know that the USA as well will not fully disclose their facts? I tend to believe that it would be impossible to do so because such is a matter of National Security. But as well, we cannot discount the fact that in order to be superior in the war field, opponents should have a few cards under their sleeve. However, just analyzing the official provided numbers of the most powerful militarily nations, will take our breath away when comparing one after another nation. Yes, if you guessed the USA is the most powerful military force in the world. Although when we look into this arena we must think nuclear arsenal first, the reality of the case is that since the likelihood of using those bombs is almost zero, the USA has the most of all weapons and better than the amount, the most technologically advanced weapons. Well, something that is almost impossible to truly know, since likely even the brass in our military forces do not get the full picture of what we have. Even putting together all the small pictures would make the chore of truly figuring out the power of our nation can only be decided in the war field. And the USA certainly did it during the invasion of Iraq and as we will know, the USA proved to have a vast superiority to what Saddam Hussein had in his stock pile. The attack of Iraq went like a breeze for the USA weaponry power. Could that be the same with China, Russia and other powerful nations? Only one way to find out: War.
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney stated that if he arrives to the White House he will provide two trillion dollars to our armed forces. No long ago, the defense budget was presented to the legislative and there were cuts into our defense cost. The arguments went back and forth and the last statement of the proper authorities said that it was OK. The Defense Department will focus instead in improving our capabilities and streamlining our troops. Other nations had done the exact same. It has been clear that the continuous fusion if massive amounts of money into the forces will not insure the proper national security. But the proper training and strategies will definitely present the desired outcome. So, why does Romney offered two extra trillions dollars to our defense department? Hard to tell but it is logic to read such as an infusion of fear to the voter. True, we are under a threat from the extremist Islams of the Persian world. True there are several terrorists groups that could present death, financial loses and insecurity to the USA, the allies and the entire world. But this is a war that cannot be fought with what we see as our military power. In order to fight a war, you need a country that declares war against the US. But no country had done so nor will easily do it. The irony of this scenario would be that the US would not loose such war. Not alone and not with the support of the allies. But the threat we all fear is a guerrilla war that cannot be fought as what we know as a war. The US have developed the means and strategies to fight the terrorists. Through intelligence and remote controlled technology the US has avoided to see a disaster in our land and avoided many disasters abroad. But eliminating absolutely every single attempt is an impossible. Once again, the enemy is not a nation nor an army. So, a two trillion dollar increase into the defense budget will not avoid one.
Now the meat of this point: Why did president Obama reduced the past budget? Because the worse threat to our national security is not being able to balance our deficit and budget. During the Cold War, it was near impossible to reduce anything military. But it was done and more than once and as we can see, there is not tragedy resulted from doing so. Nevertheless, since the days of the Cold War the military budget was one of the biggest suckers of tax money. Do not take my word for it. Visit this website that states everything you will like and need to know about this. The Ten Largest Military Powers In The World up to the end of 2010 are here. Here is the link: http://247wallst.com/2011/04/14/the-ten-largest-military-powers-in-the-world/
This well researched document, published in April 14 of 2011 will show you the facts. If you lack the time to do so, here are some of the highlights. I will share with the the three on the top of some important facts and stats.
1. USA
> Spending 2010: $698 Billion
> Change 2001 – 2010: 81.3%
> Share of GDP: 4.8%

2. China
> Spending 2010: $[119] Billion
> Change 2001 – 2010: 189%
> Share of GDP: [2.1]%
3. UK
> Spending 2010: $59.6 Billion
> Change 2001 – 2010: 21.9%
> Share of GDP: 2.7%

What? Russia is not among the three top nations? Surprising isn’t it? Well, lets get to Russia but not before:
4. France
> Spending 2010: $59.3 Billion
> Change 2001 – 2010: 3.3%
> Share of GDP: 2.3%

5. Russia
> Spending 2010: $[58.7] Billion
> Change 2001 – 2010: 82.4%
> Share of GDP: [4]%

But these numbers will not present a clear picture to the average person. What about the sea and air weaponry and as well, all the land arsenal? Check this great site, although there are several that present detailed facts and stats, this one will give you a general good idea:
http://www.globalfirepower.com/
In this site you will see that some countries have more something than the US. Such as Russia’s and their submarines or China’s carriers. Not true! Got you! We have more and we have better!
We cannot pass the grand fact that the US have a long and detailed experience with all sorts of weapons and machinery and American engineering and building still is at the very top of the ladder. Other nations will need the same experience to detail and hone their technology. But as well, we civilians are clueless as what the USA have under their sleeves.

Arguing and debating the USA status among international relations or diplomacy is another topic that requires a decent education and command of the facts. However, I will dare to say that what the media and the Obama administration have said in this regard is accurate. We are in a better situation than what we were during the Bush administration. Diplomatic ties and relations will never be perfect but they can be predictable up to some point. Although negotiations may end prematurely and without solving all the issues, what a few call “A mechanical delay to resolution”, is not so. The USA and the allies have strategies and policies that have a proven record of success. Even if the imposed nation of a sanction claims the contrary. In the case of Iran, for instance, they are suffering tremendously with the imposed sanctions. Just talk to anyone in that nation and they will tell you that they are getting ready to do something about it although their government claims there is no reason to fear nothing. And this is the beginning. Now, they once again accepted the invitation to negotiate their nuclear plans and open that is demanded to prove they are not even near to have a nuclear bomb. But as well, they will need the delivery vehicle that at the moment they work on that, the allies will confront them and threaten with military power. The world is ready for that, including the US and without any influx of more trillions of dollars.

Last, we all think, wish, talk of world peace. So do I! But revising our long history, we will find out that we are in one of the most peaceful stages that our world have seeing. But the threat will always be there and there will be times of war. The question today is what kind of war? No one wants any kind but the battle for power, freedom, etc, is part of part of human nature. As my step dad used to tell me and totally infuriated: We are savages! Yes, we are and violence takes place all the time and at all levels. From domestic violence to violence among groups in all nations. We humans know so little about temper and as well, it seems we are unable to control our selves if something tic us off. Such as the case of M. Romney that has not been able to truly present any facts that would invalidate Obama’s place in the White House and in front of the American people. In fact and on that note, the battle between republicans and democrats and the representatives of both ends have trespassed the boundaries of peace. In the case of Romney, he even manipulates the facts the construct fear and hate against Obama. Interesting that General Colin publicly declared support to president Obama’s candidacy but as well, Colin stated his worries about the proposed policies by Senator Romney. Romney as he represents himself is a threat to that peace here, in our country and to the world. I don’t think he means that nor that he truly supports what he says. Although he is a smart man for some things. Romney is not smart enough to run the USA. Just like George Bush, that brought the nation to the worse state the nation has faced in several decades and perhaps in history. The facts speak for themselves and today, we can see that all the warnings about the situation with Saddam Hussein, Taliban and Al Qaeda were right but not in support of Bush. The true experts spoke and never were allowed to prove their knowledge. Instead, Bush invaded Iraq and sent massive amounts of soldiers to Afghanistan, borrowed several trillions of dollars from China, never found Bin Laden nor restore Iraq to human living conditions and Islamist from many countries hate America. More importantly, lost thousands of our soldiers for what? The only benefited from his actions are the corporations that supported the troops, raped the American tax payers and got away with murder without a flick. As well, Bush did not not stopped the mortgage and banking collapse when he warned about a future depression. A depression that was in the media for at least two years. Banks and home sellers made a mint of that but millions of people lost their homes and many more their income.

The cherry of my blog is in turn now. And the cherry is you and every single citizen that instead of repeating what has been said or published, gathers reliable information to make their mind regarding of how they will contribute in the formation of a better country. Well, in a perfect world because although it was clear Bush was not the answer to the nation, he was reelected so he made the chaos and crisis even worse. Frankly, republicans should be grateful to Obama and the democrats because without them, who know how low we could go and end up living a deeper grand depression. True, we are not recovered yet. True it will take a few more years. But reelecting Obama will bring that chance and electing Romney will definitely be a regression to the Bush times.

It is supposed that every single individual is conscious of their actions and results. So, voting is not merely about choosing the candidate we like best but making a choice that will bring the best possible scenario to the nation. That is what makes each of us the cherry on top if the cake. But we must have a cake to have that role and if we lightly make a presidential choice, we may end up losing the entire cake. And we well not even get to enjoy eating it! Most of it has been already eaten with the mortgage and baking unscrupulous people that sold America in exchange of their personal fortune. Oh well! As I said: In a perfect world  . . .  but we are far from that one!

 

Middle East – Just a concern? Or an impending threat?

By Isis Win

I always advocate for learning what is necessary to have any kind of judgment about . . . whatever! But at times, we hear and read information that perhaps is reliable but never complete. That cannot lead to educated judgment but to assumptions that mostly fall in the domain of pure ignorance and projections of all kinds. The word moves around and as it grows becomes an exaggeration of what possibly was no more than an important issue. After all, the media constantly competes to be on top of everything for the sake or ratings. Nothing new about that. But bad or incomplete information at times in the hands of people with unlimited access to the media can become quite convoluted and make matters worse. For instance, during Republican campaigning, the media has constantly been accusing Obama of being responsible for the actual status of the nation, which we all know is not good, regardless of any progress reported by the same media or the executive branch. It is rather dismaying to realize that a presidential candidate would be making accusations that have no foundation in truth, that are, in other words, plain lies. The New York Times published an interesting discussion about lies in the political world. The discussion doesn’t really help any reader to figure out one or another thing except that lying is a fact of life; it has been that way for a long time and likely will not change.
On that note, I wonder about the lack of attention to the issues going on in most of the Middle East countries that represent not only lack of stability in the region but as well to the world. After all, we can’t ignore the fact that the world depends on the production and sales of petroleum products. Instead, we only have sketches about what’s going on and, from time to time, that news in the hands of the Arabs who fight the US, is used in the very same way that media portrays Obama to persuade their people to join the hate against this country. We have video of soldiers desecrating the bodies of some rebels and of cases of civilian casualties. Clearly, propaganda of that kind will not help any attempt to push any of those countries into diplomatic negotiations.
Perhaps my uneducated mind is more concerned than it should be or than is justified, but for years I’ve been afraid of what some analysts recently have been talking about: the possibility of a Middle East war. For starters a few analysts are concerned about too many loose cannons that can trigger one. If that happens to be the case, the world, including the US, is at peril. The US cannot afford another economic blow due to hostilities of any sort in the region. However, can the US stay out of it, particularly if Israel acts, provoked by the threats from neighboring countries?
I prefer much more to assume that this just another crisis that the world has to face as in the past, that it won’t escalate as in the past. But it is clear that just the threat of such a crisis will cause serious turmoil in most countries. And there are too many reasons to suspect a serious international issue is at stake at this moment. There are too many countries demonstrating antagonism toward the US, and no one can escape the idea that instead of fighting Big Brother in the war field, imposing financial distress can do the job. That was one of the aims of Al-Qaeda when it attacked the Twin Towers. It was not just to cause panic, fear, and loss of life. Regardless of how prepared any nation could be for the possibility of attacks in their own land, Al-Qaeda proved that even the most powerful nation in the world is at risk in the hands of terrorists groups.
I have no doubts the US can “bite the bullet” and overcome anything. The resilience of the American people has been proven over and over, but whether this is the case or not, this something that no one wants to see and deal with. As well, it is unlikely that the world would sit back observing a conflict. The alliance will join efforts to fight any country that disrupts the well-being of an allied nation. But we need warring of any kind, not even diplomatic warfare, as has been happening with Iran. However, we know little about what is happening with other nations that “claim” to be friends of the US. We have Afghanistan and Pakistan, and lately Turkey has been mentioned, as countries that possibly have hidden agendas with the US. And there is no doubt in my mind that petrol-producing nations have one of the “aces” in their hands. We know Saudi Arabia is somehow on our side, but we can’t ignore that it is an Arab nation and threatening countries are its neighbors. All this, while we already are sorting out an unemployment problem that represents a level of economic stagnation that is not exclusive of the political situation that we’ve been witnessing now for years.
Although most scholars and analysts I’ve heard don’t directly state the reason for the actual state of affairs with the Arab Nations, they are not slow to suggest more than one or twice that the lack of stability in the Middle East is collateral damage due to the poor management of Saddam Hussein’s removal. I recall before the pre-emptive attack against Iraq, academics warned the White House of the possible consequences. Iraq was the glue at the time that maintained stability in the region which was the reason the US supported that nation before the threat that it possibly was supporting al-Qaeda and had weapons of mass destruction. This by the way, showed either poor intelligence-gathering by the US or simply that we were deceived by the American government. There are plenty of people out there now suggesting conspiracies and that corporate interests curiously formed a nexus with our executive figures during the previous years. The ultimate fact is that whether we don’t know any better because the true knowledge is of National Security importance or the truth is manipulated back and forth, we have serious reasons to fear a longer period of chaos in the world. Of course, crisis like this had been seen a few times before, such as the case of the ballistic missile build up in Cuba by the Soviets. I recall the newspaper headlines pointing to a possible WW III. Thank goodness nothing happened because those missiles were removed. But the fear was there, even for myself, a young person incapable of reasoning the possible outcome.
As was lightly mentioned in the “Lies” discussion by the New York Times, one of the problems about manipulation, half-truths and lies in the political arena, is that the American people just read and hear them and go on. However, considering the radical split the American people have been facing so far, the same that will render its outcome this coming November, such lies are creating a wave of sentiment that all should avoid. During WW II, and the Great Depression, the American people joined hands to overcome the crises that threatened this great nation, and as anyone can see, the US came out gloriously and achieved a predominant place in the world. We are not even close to losing our place in the world as long the US dollar continues being the currency of trade, but this is something that we cannot afford to allow to change because of events in the Middle East. We all must be together, put aside our differences, and work towards bringing the nation to where we were before Iraq, Afghanistan and the mortgage crisis. Although I didn’t feel Obama’s State of the Union speech was of historic caliber, what he said is nothing else but the truth in regards to what must be addressed in the upcoming years. I am not fully convinced he can deliver his agenda due to the orchestrated obstruction by the Republicans; however, it is a matter of common sense to allow his initiatives to happen, even if they believed to be prone to failure, instead of simply freezing everything and getting nothing done. The entire executive and legislative branches should as well put aside their differences and sit down to negotiate whatever it takes for the sake of moving the country forward. Otherwise, even if the Republicans win the upcoming election, the damage could be too large for them to pull the country of danger, just like the scenario that Obama faced right after becoming elected. Our reality of today is not a partisan or philosophical issue. It is a matter of the well-being of the country and everyone in it because after all, if we end up with an empty basket, everyone, including the 1% will suffer serious consequences. It is a luxury we cannot afford.