Category: Politics

Boots On The Ground: US Sends Marines To Fight Using Artillery In Syrian Civil War

In a move seen by many as an escalation in the US efforts to contain the situation of Syria, the United States Army had sent a regiment of troops to provide backup artillery offensives against the Islamic State in Syria. Marines have been deployed from their ships in the Middle East and had established artillery outposts near Raqqa.

Analysts were quick to mention the deployment could induce further “mission creep” and place US forces in the frontlines that may have The Pentagon to use conventional forces in Syria. The US artillery forces would provide offensive for US-backed assets in the country.

According to US Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, the US had provided indirect offensive support to Special Operations troops in the area such as the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System.

According to military commanders, Trump’s administration had also helped them avoid “micromanagement” in making decisions everyday on engaging the enemies overseas. The new rules of engagement include fighting the Islamic State by air using Apache helicopters and training local assets further for offensives.

The Pentagon said the entire operation of using boots on the ground for artillery is only designated as a “reassure and deter” mission. According to political analysts, the presence of US troops were only to ensure both Turkish and Syrian opposition fighters only fought against the Islamic State and the troops are there to destabilise the growing rift between the two assets.

US Intelligence Data Proving Trump Won With Russian Help ‘Ridiculous” According to US President-Elect

Reports of Russian meddling through cyber influence and several hacking attacks suggest the country’s intelligence forces may have helped place US President-Elect Donald Trump in his current position. The President-Elect refuses to believe the suggestion despite overwhelming evidence that the attacks did not originate from China.

According to House Intelligence Committee Democratic officer Adam Schiff, Russia is probably behind the hacking attacks. He said that it was not China nor it was a “400-pound guy in New Jersey or anyone else” and strongly suggested it was the Russians behind it. Working with two Republican and Democratic leaders in the committee, they have secured strong evidence that suggests Russian activity had taken place.

According to Republican Senator John McCain — working with the Democrats — said the activity may have likely affected the elections but it is not restricted to only furthering Trump’s influence.

US Intelligence uncovered Russian hacker activity to exploit Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton’s damaging emails that had reduced her campaign influence and may have been Russia’s bid to disillusion the United States with its political process. The CIA reports that Russian hacking had helped Trump to ultimately win the US election.

In an interview, US President-Elect Donald Trump did not believe the statement. He said Russia’s involvement in the matter was non-existent and he won “fair and square.”

Lack of Teachers Guarantee Failure of UN Universal Education Goal]

Without teachers in impoverished areas including sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, the UN’s universal education goal still lacks 69 million teachers to achieve its goal.

According to UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics published during the World Teacher’s Day on October 5, the international community has a shortage of 24.4 million primary school teachers and 44.4 million secondary school teachers to achieve the said goal.

About 263m children worldwide are out of school. An estimated 25 million are unlikely to ever receive any form of education. Only about 14% of young adults finish their studies in impoverished countries.

In sub-Saharan Africa – the region with the fastest growing school-age population – more than 70% of countries face teacher shortages in primary schools, while 90% do not have enough secondary teachers, according to the data. In order to meet sustainable development goal four, which specifically calls for more qualified teachers and more teacher training in developing countries, roughly 17 million primary and secondary teachers will need to be recruited and trained in sub-Saharan Africa within the next 14 years.

South Asia faces the second largest teacher shortage, with an additional 15 million teachers – 11 million at secondary level – needed by 2030.

MH17 Prosecutors Will Release Findings on Wednesday

Two years after Malaysian Airlines MH17 flew over Eastern Ukraine and fell into uncharted territory, an international team of prosecutors will look into the findings of MH17 investigators and release their findings this Wednesday.

Earlier reports from the Dutch Safety Board indicated that a Russian-made Buk missile had hit the plane. The board did not indicate who fired the rocket.

Prosecutors from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine will be part of the Joint International Team.

Due to the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and further violence in the region, the United States and the European Union had widened sanctions against Russia’s clandestine activities.

Political analysts are quite surprised with the announcement. According to BBC’s Anna Holigan, the motives of the criminal investigators who are about to release the information this week are still unclear. The meeting would open the door against suspects who may be involved in the situation and give them a window to clear their names.

News networks indicated that families of the victims remain frustrated as prosecutors and investigators still could not say who was responsible for the atrocious airline disaster.

The Ramifications Of A Brexit

Financial Times Writers Emily Cadman and Shawn Donnan had imagined an end scenario wherein the United Kingdom had voted for an exit from the European Union.

While Vote Leave is rejoicing, the two writers believe that Europe would assert itself in the European Economic Area. Now, it is a European country that is not in the bloc. Along with others in the same market, it avoids being bound by agriculture, fisheries, judicial and foreign affairs policies. But it must cut through with unique deals.

Which might face difficulty. The two writers iterate that Europe may deliver a ‘hard bargain’ against a “Brexited” Britain when it comes to lowering tariffs and striking deals.

Despite having exited Europe, the United Kingdom still has to deal with European countries. But without its European Union leverage as it had in the past, it would mean huge penalties to the country if it were to leave.

While many say that the UK’s economic deficit to the EU would give it enough leverage, it isn’t enough to recompense the lost profits it could have by losing about half of the UK’s exports.

Britain’s services sector would also suffer. The financial markets would also face bigger challenges upon entry. About a tenth of the UK’s services industry the financial industry makes up. The lack of access to European Union markets, and even the absence of fluid passage as it does now, would hurt the country’s GDP.

EU And Turkey Reach Agreement On Migrant Crisis

The EU and Turkey stated they have reached agreement on the broad principles of a plan to resolve the increasingly-difficult migrant crisis in a Brussels summit. However, both sides have yet to make a final decision.

Talks will continue on 17-18 March.

European Council President Donald Tusk said migrants arriving in Greece would be returned to Turkey. Turkey will then have Eu accept a Syrian refugee on a one-for-one basis. Turkey will also add funding and progress on EU Integration.

Turkey had accepted the proposals, but both sides said it was still uncertain whether the agreement would see light as soon as possible.

The EU enumerated the agreed deal principles including:

  • the return of all new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey to the Greek islands with the costs covered by the EU
  • the resettlement of one Syrian from Turkey to the EU for every Syrian readmitted by Turkey from Greece
  • speeding up of plans to allow Turks visa-free travel in Europe, with a view to lifting visa requirements by June 2016
  • speeding up the payment of €3bn ($3.3bn; £2.2bn) promised in October, and a decision on additional funding to help Turkey deal with the crisis. Turkey reportedly asked for EU aid to be increased to €6bn ($6.6bn; £4.64bn)
  • preparations for a decision on the opening of new chapters in talks on EU membership for Turkey

North Korea Might Be Out To Test New Technology Once Again

The People’s Republic of Korea in North Korea had announced plans that it would launch satellites sometime in February. The nation even issued warnings where the boost stages of rockets might plummet back to the surface.

Japan threatened the nation and said it would shoot down the rocket if it flies towards Japanese airspace. The US had also condemned the new escalation on North Korea’s attempt to bring up a satellite.

According to them:

“This act would violate numerous Security Council resolutions by utilizing proscribed ballistic missile technology,” said US State Department Spokesman John Kirby.

Last year, North Korea had scheduled nuclear tests, showing its defiance against UN Security Council resolutions.

According to intelligence collected by the South Korean Military, the North Korean western coast will be the starting point of the latest version of North Korea’s Kwangmyongsong (Bright Star) Satellite series. It would also help test its Unha (Galaxy) Rockets, which has new modifications that would guarantee better chances of success than its previous satellite launch attempt in the previous years.

A month ago, North Korea has also been the centre of military attention as it claimed to have detonated a thermonuclear bomb.

The first satellite from North Korea aimed to track crop production in the country. The experiment failed in December 2012.

North Korea May Have Accomplished Nuclear Test Following “Artificial Earthquake”

According to South Korean, US, Chinese and European agencies, seismic activity close to North Korea’s nuclear testing site is consistent with its fourth nuclear test.

The US Geological Service said the 5.1 magnitude quake on Wednesday in Punggye-ri may have been caused by the north’s nuclear tests announced previously. The South Korean Meteorological Administration said they suspect a “man-made” earthquake. The Administration is currently analysing the epicentre of the quake.

Meanwhile, North Korea state radio said the North Korean government is to make “an important announcement” following the artificial earthquake.

The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre said it detected unusual seismic activity in North Korea but couldn’t verify if North Korea had conducted a fourth nuclear test.

The Chinese Earthquake centre said it detected a possible explosion in North Korea at “zero kilometres with a magnitude 4.9 quake”.

The last North Korean nuclear test was in 2013. China, a close ally of North Korea, had increasingly grown strained of their relationship due to North Korea’s persistence in improving its nuclear armament. It had condemned the 2013 nuclear test.

Many suspect the explosion to be nuclear in nature as the 2013 nuclear test had a 5.1 magnitude quake, synonymous with 2016’s quake in the same location.

Observers, Analysts Respond To Autumn Statement Proposals On Personal Injury

Editor Neil Rose of Legal Futures, the move to increase the small claims court’s limit from £1000 to £5000 to address minor soft tissue motor accident injuries gives the advantage to insurers alone. This would enable them to settle cases off-court in a lump-sum repayment.

Law Society President Jonathan Smithers said victims will be forced to go through the small claims court without legal advice, giving insurers that could have legal consultation and representation with their resources the upper hand.

Meanwhile, insurers said to handle the large queue of personal injury claims, contesting them with legal representation would increase its £2bn loss yearly for fraudulent and exaggerated personal injury claims.

The proposals come after Chancellor George Osborne announced his plan to revolutionise the UK’s compensation culture. Senior EAD Partner Steve Cornforth said the Chancellor is fighting a “mythical” compensation culture that “the media and insurance companies created to alarm us all without substantial evidence of its existence.”

The Select Transport Committee had criticised the Chancellor’s Spending Review as it downplayed the role of victims. The STC said the Chancellor’s consultation were only with insurers.

Whiplash injuries, including injuries with facial scarring, will face a cap of £5000. Observers and analysts said this would only be “throwing the problem into the long grass”. A guaranteed solution cannot be ensured by the move, they said.


Paris Attacks Were Planned For 11 Months

Belgian intelligence services said Abdelhamid Abaaoud’s plan to assault Paris last Friday they planned for almost a year before the terror leader revealed himself and killed 129 people in separate waves of attacks in the capital.

Abaaoud was killed by a police raid in their hideout in a Saint-Denis apartment where he and other jihadist members planned another wave of attacks, ending their mission for the Islamic State militants.

After the shootout, authorities arrested eight perpetrators and found the body of a female suicide bomber and another mutilated body detonated after the explosion.

French intelligence confirms that Abaaoud was involved in four other terrorist plots in France since spring. According to French Interior Minister Bernard Cazenueve, Europe needs more intelligence sharing.

Gaping Holes In Europe’s Borders

Some members of the party that attacked Paris last Friday were originally from France. One of the militants travelled to Syria from his hometown in France and returned despite his passport having been confiscated and he is under surveillance.

Abaaoud had travelled across Islamic State to Europe at different times, including an attack plot in Belgium last January.

The incident had brought to light the immense inability of security services to simultaneously monitor large groups of European Muslims who had fought once for the Islamic State or even spot possible terrorist attacks at present.