Thursday, October 30, 2014

U.S. Military budget cuts-2

Since the overwhelming part of Western and Eastern Europe who are members of NATO are under the U.S. nuclear umbrella and thus don’t have to spend much money on defense because of it but this ISIS threat is a different thing altogether. This is not a regular army (although there are trying to sort of) which you can face and have universal laws impose on them. They are in Europe's midst (not to sound alarmist but the ideology is attractive to some disillusioned Muslims and others) so the Europe which is ignoring this fact is doing at its own peril. But despite the fact that the whole of Europe's population is almost equivalent to the U.S. there is a great disparity among the different states' population and that is one of the reasons they don’t contribute that much to the collective defense of Europe. But if you see the Middle Eastern countries, they spend huge amounts of money for the defense without the security of the U.S. nuclear umbrella; Europe can do more to contribute to the defense of Europe and also to the world. But since the U.S. cannot ignore its responsibility as the world's sole super power, and increasingly relying on the military without giving it the proper tools and cuts in its budget is not the way to go. And U.S. is the only one with the means and capability to use its Military around the world. So let’s not tie the hands of it by cutting the Military budget when it is needed the most for our obligations and responsibilities.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

U.S. Military budget cuts

As you know my opinion (as well as most of the people's opinion) change overtime depending on the prevailing circumstances. A few of my posts may have said that in order to reduce the deficit, defense budget has to be reduced but it cannot since the Republicans don’t want to touch it because of national security issues. I now officially reverse my stand on this issue as we see the whole world crumbling down around us with everybody except for the United States chickening out since it does not affect them in some way. If you see around us, there is the outbreak of Ebola, although a health emergency but the U.S. has already sent in around 4,000 troops to build facilities in Ebola ravaged countries. And the crisis in Ukraine, although contained needs to monitored and in this case U.S. is again taking the lead but not sending any troops, just providing intelligence and other logistics to European countries to make sure Russia does not step beyond what it has already done in Ukraine. Then we have this huge issue with ISIS, the Islamic Militant organization overrunning large pieces of land in Iraq and Syria and trying to establish a so called Caliphate based on supposed Islamic laws. Before the U.S. stepped in and have a loose coalition trying to stop ISIS, no country was willing to take the lead in countering this menace to the world. Most of the European countries except of France and Britain with major contributions were standing on the sidelines. I don’t want to criticize which European countries are contributing to this fight and which are not (although I gave only two major European powers names which are contributing to it) but Europe has a huge Muslim population susceptible to ISIS propaganda.

Does media drives agenda?

Yes sometimes and I may say most of the time, it does drive some particular agenda depending upon which media outlet you are listening and watching. If you see some news that is being repeated so much that you may think that it is the only thing happening around the world and other equally important news get buried to times where the audience is not that much. You can see for example lately the Ebola scare is all over the news and although very real danger emanates from it, other equally harmful and even more lethal diseases have been relegated or I should say neglected by the media in their quest to be the first one to report on all breaking news about Ebola. The same thing is now happening in Iraq and Syria crisis and with ISIS in the picture, all the news is being driven by media as it is hard to get information from the war zone. Some people specifically watch some channels or read some newspapers because that is the ideology that they rely on or believe in and some of the people without researching further believe most of the news coming out of the media as truthful even if turns out to be false later on or not incorrect. But my point is that the Media has gotten hold of people's views and they drive what should be the main story of the day even if there are other important stories to run. But be very careful what the Media anywhere in the world dishes out because they may be driven by the beliefs of their owner, management or following government dictates.

On the lighter side-Movies-Papita, Mani, Toston (2013-Venezuela)

Naturally in between all the Hollywood movies that I see, I have to venture into foreign language movies to find out what other countries are making and this is one of the great Spanish movies from Venezuela that I discovered. A fan of a baseball team falls in love with the daughter of the manager of the opposing team and trouble ensues. Realistic depiction of Venezuela despite all the hardships, people feel happy and enjoying life. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Deliver us from Evil (2014)-Eric bana

A police detective teams up with a priest who deals with exorcism to find out why people are getting possessed in this hit or miss horror/mystery movie makes you want to feel like watch a real horror movie but it still entertained somewhat. Recommended with caution

Monday, October 27, 2014

Is somebody watching you always?

It seems that way because everywhere you go and see it looks like somebody is always watching you and surveillance cameras are in abundance. The most annoying and effective ones are the ones installed on signal which catch red light violators including speeders but the other ones installed on shops and stores and in streets are as effective since every time there is a crime, police always look for a security camera or surveillance tapes to see who was their when the crime happened. And many a times, the criminals dumb or stupid or daring enough to show their face in the act of crime are on the tape and from there on the pictures are released by the authorities and after a while with public's help sometimes, the criminal is nabbed. It looks like security cameras are being installed everywhere and not only in the United States but other countries have discovered the advantages of having these cameras installed to counter crime. Now the privacy issues comes which people raise that it violates their right. I know many people view their privacy very seriously but as everybody knows we have already surrendered majority of our privacy to social media and other websites and besides privacy concerns, most of the people agree that security cameras are now considered a necessary evil whether our privacy rights are violated or not since it has become an effective tool to catch cameras and nobody in their right mind would want to deprive law enforcement officials of this valuable crime fighting tool. So living with it is what we can all do and be careful what you do does not land you on a camera and in jail possibly.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Who and what is a friend?

This is a very intriguing question but most people take it as it is. Sometimes after you meet a person a couple of times, you start consider them as having a friendship, be that a shopkeeper, a service person or a colleague from your work with whom you feel comfortable enough to share your time or maybe your money in the first case. But are they truly your friends or just have their own interests in their hearts and are just playing along because they also feel comfortable with you. And it is just not you but also my late father (May his soul rest in peace) use to call somebody with whom he has seen quite a few times a friend. I guess deep in their hearts, they know that actually they are not your friends but for the sake of maintaining a relationship or lack of a better word, they use this special word. Now for me (and I believe a lot of other people) a friend is one you share your feelings, happiness and sorrow, you invite them to your parties and you go to their parties, their kids and your kids play together, in times of need you can borrow or lend money to them and in case of emergencies you feel comfortable to rely on them. You almost know their past and present history and you are proud of their friendship. Friendship is not that it is just made but it is build up over years and last a lifetime. I have friends with whom I have friendship for decades not years and even though they live in different states and have different schedules, I try to keep in touch with them and them with me. That is what I call a friend.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

On the lighter side-Movies-Kingdom Come (2014)

Some people wake up in a seemingly abandoned hospital with no memory of how they got there and why and it seems the movie does not tell it really well either in this horror/mystery movie which is not up to mark. Not Recommended

The reluctant General of Pakistan-2

It is really strange that as soon as he left (or retired) the new General said that every attack by the Taliban would be met with equal and more forceful response and he has kept his word starting with the offensive in North Waziristan and following with tit for tat retaliation against any Taliban offensive. The whole scary scenario of blowback from the Taliban has not materialized and all is going well as of now. But back to the former General, why was he so reluctant to attack the Taliban, was he afraid of their attacks against him personally since it seems by the record that he left that he did nothing to prevent their attacks against civilian and military targets, was he too much concentrated on India to refuse to realize the Taliban threat or did he made a deal with the Taliban that they keep on attacking inside Pakistan for whatever reason and he would not wage war against them. Whatever maybe the case, nobody till now have questioned him why he was so adamant not to attack the Taliban, because as I said before, nobody dares question the Army chief about what he wants to do or not want to do. But to me the coming of the new chief has exposed the previous one of many questions that need to be answered as it seems that his reluctance to confront this menace has given great grief to Pakistani people who have lost their loved ones and increasingly the more deep you look into it the more you see blood of innocent people on his hands as his reluctance has exposed him as being a facilitator to all this madness that has engulfed Pakistan.

The reluctant General of Pakistan

You know if you have been following news, Pakistan’s army has launched an offensive in the violent lawless region of Pakistan called North Waziristan. After much prodding by the U.S. and giving up on it recently, change of command of the top General made this offensive possible. For the last six years when the former General (General Kiyani) was in command, despite numerous attempts and pressure by the U.S., the general was reluctant and even adamant that he will not be forced to launch an offensive with various excuses ranging from the blow back from Taliban to India-centric policy of the army to other unnamed reasons, he was very reluctant and even if I may say afraid to launch an offensive even when the whole country was in flames due to the regular Taliban attacks in Pakistan. During this reign as the army chief, nothing seems to change his mind as the militants (also called Taliban) attacked a naval base, air force base, even Army’s headquarters, but it seems that he was very much asleep at the Job. Several intelligence officials and thousands of soldiers along with thousands of ordinary Pakistanis died during this tenure as Army chief but since in Pakistan it is considered almost a blasphemy to question what the Military is doing, nobody dared asked him or even forced him to confront Taliban. So here my question is what was behind his almost criminal reluctant not be start an offensive against the Taliban. Nobody would ever know the answer as it is guarded like a state secret or you may say Military secret.

Too much emphasis on some diseases

With Ebola in the news constantly now and making people nervous about it and the governments around the world panicking, this diseases have taken over the mindset of everybody leaving behind other diseases that people are suffering silently. Before AIDS/HIV disease was all the rage and most of the funding was being done for it (it still does too but Ebola has taken over it). Breast cancer is another of the disease that has a whole month of October dedicated to it. I can understand deaths occur in these diseases but there are other which although get funding but are struggling to gain attention in this era of Ebola. Diabetes, heart disease, other forms of cancer, child diseases and other top rated diseases that consume thousands of death each year and maybe even hundreds of thousands have a hard time gaining much attraction since they have been here so long that it does not gain that much media attention. My point here is not to belittle any disease but the media hype for Ebola should also be for other diseases. I guess since most of the other diseases are genetically related to the person and are not transmitted by bodily fluid or air borne is not that scary for the general population. And also the media attention is not on other diseases right now so people are not aware of it or just not feel that they are highly susceptible to it unless they have someone in their families affected by it. Ebola should be emphasized but other diseases are as important which affects far more people than Ebola is doing right now.

Careful with the relationships

I was hearing about news that how a stepfather killed his young step daughter because she soiled her pants and her older brother violently abused. The surprising part was that the guy had been arrested numerous times before and still the mother fell in love this guy and got married to him of all places living in homeless shelter. Now this begs the question, a man with so much prior arrest records got into a relationship with a woman who should have known better to trust him with her kids. Relationships are complicated but once the kids come in and you start dating someone else, you need to be really careful and make sure that the person you are in relationship with loves your kids unconditionally. I know that witnesses say that there were no signs of any tension between the two but you never know when somebody will snap. But if already know (how could you not will be the first question) that the person has been arrested not once not twice but several times for various offenses and you have not had a background check or not gone with him or her on enough dates then the fault squarely falls on you the person who is dating. We should be very careful of whom we are dating and if you don’t know the history of the person, then you should stay single rather than risk these kinds of relationships. I keep on reading these disastrous relationships that people get into and sometimes it ends up in tragedy like the one I mentioned above.

The making of a Horror Movie-2

If it is slightly good movie or even if it is not but was made cheaply but made a bunch of money, then you have to make sure your every Horror movie should end as a cliffhanger with the killer and the last victim surviving for the next battle. Then you have the other type of movie where it is not based on gore and blood but scaring you without being repulsive and for people who are more disgusted by the sight of blood gushing out of bodies than the natural ghost or haunted house or some object type movies. The found footage one has been very popular to the point of being on the really stupid side as you can only scare people with ghost stories so much. These two movie plots that I have mentioned above are the bulk of the Horror movies now being made and sometimes make enough money to last for years for film makers.' With this in mind, I was just thinking that if I try and have funds I can also on being a horror movie director. I may not have enough people but I can always hire aspiring actors and actresses who can be good victims for a killer in a movie with screams and fake bloods by the bucket. A hand held camera and a found footage style movie with a little help from the instructions videos on the internet and a few days (even using my vacation time) to make a movie which can be released on the internet and maybe go viral by word of mouth and make enough money to cover my expenses, pay the people involved in the making of the movie and maybe turn a profit and enjoy in the process. The idea seems to be too tempting to let it go to waste.

The making of a Horror Movie

By now after reading my blog through, you may have noticed that I love movies especially the scary ones. I don’t care if it has enough gore or no gore, as long it scares me; it is THE MOVIE for me. But you know, watching so many of them, you become very discrete of what you like and what turns you off even with enough scares. Story line is important but the end result after seeing these Horror movies is the same; you should expect a sequel with the overwhelming majority of movies since the theme is that evil never dies. By now I have shortened the list of themes available today in the Horror movie criteria. Let’s start with this one, gather for a few friends, mostly a diversified group of people and always include some females. One of the female must be some daring or loose character type, always flirting and showing off skin, one male should be a nerdy one or a shy one whom one of the girls in the bunch tease. Then all these bunch of friends drive to an isolated place, a hospital, a local abandoned area, an asylum and then they are sometimes invoke some demon, tell stories at night around a fireplace, have sex, explore the area or just are plan lucky enough to encounter a killer who have happened to be in that part of that area where they are partying. Then you can use your imagination in what ways you want to kill off the characters, whether the most obnoxious one goes first or the silent type goes last. Most of these movies have female leads taking the lead to fight the killers and survive but so does the killer.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Canada under attack

Recently Canada came under attack by two people one allegedly inspired by ISIS and to the other one still sorting out the details but also no doubt inspired by Jihadists literature online and in some mosques in Canada. I have been to Canada and it is a beautiful and peaceful place with the most diverse culture and welcoming to all immigrants. You really feel very safe there and feel right at home with many different cultures, with excellent universities and recreation. I don’t know who would want to disturb the peace of such a country and more surprisingly who would get their hands on weapons which are strictly controlled and regulated in Canada (as opposed to the U.S.) and Canada does not show up in major international conflicts due to its small population and liberal attitude. As part of NATO, true it is obliged to send troops to Muslim countries but it is also a country with some of the highest number Muslims populations in the Western world as compared to its overall population. The only connection that the recent attacks is that both of the attackers were recent converts to Islam and became radicalized (like that is the first thing they have to do to after becoming Muslims). Now I am afraid that despite the calls to defy these acts of terrorism, Canada will start acting like the a country under siege (which it is actually) and there will be attacks on mosques and Muslims would be viewed negatively despite all the peaceful living Muslims living normal lives and every Muslim will come under suspicion. And unless we know all the information about the gunman who killed a Canadian soldier, we should not jump to conclusions but the initial reports coming out of Canada does not sound very encouraging.

Have Hollywood run out of ideas?

You may have read in my blog that I watch a lot of movies and not only from the U.S. but from around the world. Most of the time I rely on people who have seen it to make sure that I don’t waste my time watching it or regret it later on. But as you all know, a person's opinion about a movie may differ from another person but still I try to read many reviews of it before making my choice to see a movie and also the story line should be compelling enough for me to see it. But increasingly the Hollywood seems not to be the place to see their brand of movies as their movies are increasingly being dominated by actions ones which are well received here in the U.S. and also around the world but the game of sequels that we see every year is just playing it safe by the Hollywood studios. Sometimes, literally I don’t have movies to watch so I venture to foreign movies because the movies Hollywood make have the same theme of some friends getting together to get terrorized or some mystery, kidnapping and then you will start seeing sequel after sequel with no end in sight and even if there is, you will then see remakes and reboots of the movies long forgotten. And there is another issue about taking risks, which Hollywood has forgotten to take and they take refuge in comic book heroes and other well established franchises. I believe that Hollywood has clearly run of ideas and risks too, so if you feel that all Hollywood offers is not up to par, you should check out independent movies and foreign movies, especially with subtitles as you will be surprised by the story line and much cheaper movies done beautifully.

The outlet rise

I know most of the people if not all may have missed this story about the rise of outlets as the news says that the affluent are also thinking about cutting down on their extravagant ways of shopping and are trying to rein in the budget without seeing as compromising on brands. The news was saying that since the outlets sales are rising much faster than stand alone luxury stores, some of the luxury brands are having their outlets nearby the original stores so that the people don’t have to go far away to shop and in this way you can get the more frugal customer including the well to do ones also shop there. Although it is a well know fact that the full price luxury stores have different quality (as documented in numerous articles) but when you are wearing the same brand with lower price you are not going to advertise that you have brought it from an outlet store, let other people deduct it if they want. It is the feeling good inside that we are wearing the same clothing as the rich people wear. And for me if I can save some money and still enjoy wearing name brand clothes and other items, why not. So the retailers have also figured this thing out and if you can still make money on your lower priced items than to let people go to another retailer, why not just let them shop your brand at a lower price. The revenue goes to the same company. So let’s start shopping at outlets now.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

On the lighter side-Movies-The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

Another year and another twelve hours of mayhem without any law and essential emergency services in this sequel to the first one. In this movie a girl along with her daughter, a couple stranded on a highway and a police officer out for purge of his own survive the night in this far better than the original movie. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Wrong Turn VI: Last resort (2014)

Those three deformed killers are back in this sixth outing with more killings and a better story line as the long lost cousin inherits a motel with a history of killings and the cousin comes with all his friends to make sure you will be able to enjoy some new murders. Recommended for horror fans only.

On the lighter side-Movies-See No Evil 2 (2014)

You know when it comes October, you will see lots of horror movies and not that great ones either so here is the sequel to See No evil about an deranged killer this time in a morgue killing of friends who have gathered there to party. Nothing new and you know the ending it will be a sequel ending one. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Snowpiercer (2013)-Chris Evans

South Korean sci-fi action thriller about a futuristic society where the world is frozen and a train which is moving constantly circles around the globe with its inhabitants divided into classes. After facing abuse, the poor stage a revolt to get in front of the train where the elite live in luxury. Very different movie and highly enjoyable. Recommended

Monday, October 20, 2014

Getting ready for snow season

For the Northeast part of the United States, summer is gone, fall is here and winter is not far behind and you know what that means, snow time. After resisting for the last seven or more years and having seen increasing amount of snow last year, my wife decided that we had enough of it and since we intend to live in this part of the U.S. we will have to invest in some snow blower. Although I resisted but you know that I lost four days last year due to excessive snow and because I was also using a shovel to remove several inches of snow and it is not easy to do that for hours in the cold weather. I will still have to use the shovel to clean stairs and narrow spaces under the cars and between the cars but the vast empty spaces behind the cars and onto the road, I will use the snow blower so that I don’t miss any more days to snow. It took us literally ten to fifteen minutes to assemble the snow blower which is a cordless battery powered one and started it to make sure it works properly. Now you can say that I am looking forward to snow so that I can try if the snow blower helps me avoid the snowed in days that I do not want to use since it cuts into my vacation time.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Plumbing issues

A few days ago, in my rented house, my upstairs tenant called to say that the tub was clogged and the water was not getting through the gutter and the same was the case with the bath sink and Kitchen sink. First I tried my regular plumber and he came and said that since he does not the machine and don’t know which one to rent, I should call a professional plumbing company. So I called one of them and they promised to come at the allotted time window of four hours. I was at the office and the asked the company to alert me when they are sending in the plumber so that I can be at the house. And surely they called me half hour before the time they were supposed to come and I rushed out of the office early to meet him at my tenant’s house. Well after he came and looked at the issue, he used his machine to unclog the drains and took almost an hour to do it. My whole point in narrating this in what I call an ordeal and stress is that it is not easy to maintain a house, less an investment property which can be a money pit if not properly and regularly maintained. I don’t have that many problems and when they come up it is hard to find money for these emergency repairs. So an emergency house fund is essential so that you are prepared for any unseen surprises in the maintenance of your house.

Writing about your life

Many people may have thought about it but have not gotten around to doing it and many people usually celebrities and people who had an extraordinary life experience have done it but for once I did thought about writing my auto biography but there are some things which are not so flattering that I would want the world to know about it or the world would not care. And another thing is that who would want to read a book about an ordinary guy like me writing about his life history when they have more interesting auto biographical books which seems to be more interesting and inspiring than an obscure guy sharing his life history. And unless you have a photogenic memory that you remember all the things important or otherwise, your auto biography would have holes that you can pass years through it. And it needs a certain amount of dedication and time discipline to follow through with it. Any for me it is hard to read other people’s auto biographies and I know that most of the normal people would not have the time or the inclination to write about what happened to them during the life time and I think that most of the auto biographical would omit many happenings in their lives which they would not want to bring out in the open. So with that auto biography is out of the picture for me (but you never know I can write some day my memoir or maybe not).

Finally low gas prices

I don’t know about other countries but after a wait which seems like eternity, gas prices have finally come down below the three dollar mark in my part of the U.S. which I am really glad and so I believe are overwhelming majority of people. Gas prices above three and sometimes four dollars a gallon mark were hurting many lower and middle class people along with numerous small businesses. These low prices can be attributed to the shale gas boom in the U.S. which has made the U.S. a net exporter of oil for the first time in more than 40 years (hope it lasts forever this time) and also the lower global economic growth that has been forecasted by economists. And all this despite the fact that much oil remains out of the global system because of the Libyan instability, Iranian oil sanctions and Iraqi civil war. My job is to locate the lowest prices of gas available at any station which is the on the way to my house and my chores and there are plenty of variations of it and I pass through six to seven towns during the week so I pretty well know which stations have the cheapest gas and they are usually the ones which are privately owned. All I know for now is that although some of the oil exporting countries may be hurting financially but for the common people like us the cheap gas is a huge blessing for me and my budget.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Ebola Scare

This relatively new disease which had its original in the western African nation is rapidly spreading fast prompting the U.S. to gear in the panic mode. Already there have been more than 4,000 deaths from it mostly in its place of origin but the panic it has created in some countries is more alarming. Since it started in Africa and most of the victims are also Africans, there have started a subtle kind of racism as people have started to associate this disease with African and black people. Although anybody can get this disease but since most of the affected are black people so it would be only natural to have other people shun them. Although I am not saying it should be the case and I am not the one who would start this thing but I am just reporting what I have read. You know when it comes to one’s life, all forms of normal and ethical behavior goes out of the window. The reaction to this disease in the U.S. is such that even some person who sneezes or has a high people is rushed to the hospital and put in isolation to find out if he/she is free of the symptoms of Ebola. And although several countries have banned people from affected areas of Africa, the U.S. despite overwhelming support of it from the public has so far refrained to do that. I hope that this disease does not spread in the U.S. and they may find some way to contain it to a small part of the world but we should not shun the people from Western Africa as they try to struggle and save their lives among poverty and lack of basic health care.

To send or not to send U.S. ground troops to Iraq-5

The fact is that right now with even more air strikes against ISIS and the option of Iranian troops on the ground not acceptable to any of the coalition partners, the only option now available which is in a recent survey of the American public says that more and more Americans believe that ground troops will be needed in addition to air strikes, so it will be just a matter of time before we will see a limited number of U.S. troops on the ground fighting the ISIS (which they are already there supposedly advising the Iraqi Military on ground operations). The more ISIS is gaining ground, the more I am convinced that absent Iranian troops, the U.S. will ultimately have to send in their own forces to flush out the ISIS. I know it is not an option that the President of the United States would like to exercise but face to face combat will be the only other option available besides air strikes. So I believe that once again the U.S. (along with some of its reluctant allies) will have to send in the ground forces if they want Iraq to remain one country and not splinter up into several parts and besides nobody would want a radical Sunni state amidst them threatening vital U.S. interests and allies. So stay tuned for the time when you will witness the introduction of ground forces of the United States (and its allies if any).

To send or not to send U.S. ground troops to Iraq-4

Besides this there are so many assortments of groups fighting in Syria. The supposedly pro-Western group is fighting with the Al-Qaeda aligned Al-Nusra front and they are both fighting with ISIS and then all of them are fighting with the Syrian Government and then if you start including the U.S. led coalition, there is a whole lot of complications arise which can lead to disability in the Middle East. And now Turkey is saying that until the current Syrian government is finished, there is no way ISIS is going to be defeated but what is the alternative. The rag tag of groups fighting the Syrian Government cannot even unite against it and the refugee problems keep on growing. And you know what regime change is done lately in the Middle East. Look no further than Libya and I should say Egypt and also Iraq. Syria is already unstable and does the world want more instability with the regime gone and then you have to deal with radical elements and nation building which is not as much fun as regime change. But it is useless you to go into Syrian discussion when Iraq is such a mess right now and the world has not completed their job there. So back to Iraq we go again. At least in Syria, the government has the means and the will to fight for their survival but in Iraq absent the will to fight is hampering its effort to deal effectively with ISIS. As things are going, there are calls that Sunnis should be included as they make the bulk of the insurgency and they have been marginalized by the Shiites ( but the same can be said when the Sunnis were in power but there was hardly any insurgency and if there was one, it was ignored by the world and crushed by the Saddam Regime, I don’t want to dwell into it right now) but yes Shiites have made mistakes but that should be the case when you are not in power for the last thousand years in the Arab world.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

To send or not to send U.S. ground troops to Iraq-3

As you know every nation has interests and as U.S. has interests in Iraq and Syria, Iran does too and it would be wrong to assume that they will let Iraq fall in the hands of ISIS. The U.S. and Iran see ISIS as an existential threat to the interests in the region. The difference is that Iran shares a border with Iraq and would not want a radical Sunni regime next door. Plus if the U.S. is reluctant to put its troops on the ground, Iran is just right there and they would not have the spend money and time sending their own troops to Iraq as they can do that even overnight. I know it is hard to swallow and even less agreement among the other coalition partners since they have been condemning Iran for its nuclear program and also labeling it with helping terror related activities and also the Arab nations don’t want Iran to come out strong with its partnership with western countries, but I believe that only Iran with the resources and large and capable armed forces with experiences in Iraq can help stabilize the situation in Iraq. As for Syria, it is now in a state of mess and except for a few areas, Syrian government is trying it's best to defeat the insurgents (freedom fighters whatever you want to call them, I reserve my comment.). With the rise of ISIS, there have been calls particularly from Turkey that a regime change should be on the agenda if we are to defeat ISIS. But there is no alternative proposed as of yet and there isn't any since many rag tag Jihadi groups are fighting there with their own agenda and plans. And the strongest one seems to be ISIS.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

To send or not to send U.S. ground troops to Iraq-2

But since the Gulf and Arab nations already enemy of Iran and the U.S. not ready to antagonize its friends in the Gulf would not allow Iran to take on this combative role in Iraq. But although there seems to be no official cooperation between the U.S. and Iran due to the above factors, on the ground the situation seems to be different. According to reports not verified independently, Iranian Special Forces the Al-Quds force is already in Iraq with their advisers helping the Iraqi Military and the assorted militias to secure the Shiite shrines in Baghdad, Samara and Karbala and Najaf. I went to Iraq and Syria in 2011 and I can say this with surety that in Iraq, Iranian influence is everywhere, whether you see their products on the markets or the people visiting the Shiites in droves. You can find Iranian currency all over the Shrines and even some shopkeepers have learnt how to speak Persian-The language of Iran as most of their customers are Iranian. As the U.S. protects its citizens when they come under threat in other countries by either sending in the U.S. marines to evacuate them send them to fight the enemy, this is the same way Iran would go ahead with its forces securing the Shiite shrines and its citizens in Iraq. And a little read news if any was that the Iran leadership has already said that they will use whatever means necessary to make sure the ISIS would not take over the religious Shiite Shrines and not fighting them is not an option. So as the U.S. led coalition fights on from the air. Iranians have their boots on the ground whether the world likes it or not.

To send or not to send U.S. ground troops to Iraq

Now that we have a got an existential threat to the country named Iraq, there have been now calls to send in the U.S. ground troops to push back ISIS. And there is a debate about it is going on although the President of the United States has said that no U.S. ground troops will be sent, there are increasing calls in the Congress to send them anyway. But what is my take on it? Although I oppose sending in the U.S. troops initially but since seeing Iraq sliding into chaos and ISIS threatening neighboring countries, it is better to send in some small contingent of U.S. special forces to help repel their advances at least around the capital Baghdad. This way ISIS will not be able to threaten the capital and also keep them in check and soldiers with equal military training fighting against them. Better yet why not strike a deal with Iran or even Syria to use their ground forces to repel ISIS. First Iran, Iran is just right there and since it is Shiite nation and will not want ISIS to run over the Shiite shrines in Iraq at any cost, why not make a deal with Iran to give them the weapons so that they can send in their ground forces to fight ISIS. In this way, Iraq will remain Iraq and the neighboring countries will not have to feel threatened by ISIS. I know it is not easy for the U.S. to come to terms with Iran in this case but this is the only choice the U.S. has if they don’t want to send their ground troops back again to Iraq.

On the lighter side-Movies-X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)-Hugh Jackman

The wolverine goes to the past to change history and save the mutants from Sentinels, robots that can adapt to all mutant abilities and are assigned to hunt and kill all mutant in this exciting action movie. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Mr.Peabody and Sherman (2014-Animated)

The time traveling antics of a canine and his adopted son in this fun family movie which despite being a commercial failure is great entertainment. Recommended

Monday, October 13, 2014

On the lighter side-Movies-Sinbad: The fifth voyage (2014)

The sultan’s first born, a daughter is kidnapped by an evil sorcerer and it is upto Sinbad to rescue her in this foggy and grainy movie with stop motion animation and nothing much to recommend. Not recommended

Denunciation is not enough

Since the rise of the ISIS, there has been widespread condemnation and denunciation of this organization all around the world and the Muslim world especially is going head over heels to denounce it as evil and not Islamic from any way. Sometimes the denunciation has been fierce due to the western pressure and sometimes they do it just to preserve their own rule but is denouncing something is enough when they are also supporting it morally and see them as brothers in faith trying to establish a caliphate. I don’t believe that this evil is going to go away just by denunciation at the same time; it is being helped by the same people who denounce it because it is the right thing to do. Denunciation with a backing up with force is useless. And flying some sorties when the U.S. is doing the heavy duty work is not going to cut it. That is now the real problem, the Muslim world condemn something and then they close their eyes to whatever is happening in the world in the name of their religion and think that people will appreciate what they have said. It is time to move beyond denunciation and to do something about the extremism and hatred that has seeped into the Muslim world of late. Mere denunciation while secretly supporting it in their heart will not make other people believe you anymore. They have to take this menace to Islam head on even if force is necessary.

All enemies unite!

Now that the coalition of the forced is growing to confront ISIS (only from the air right now), you can see that the nations or people who were enemies before are coming together to fight this existential threat to their own countries. Although Iran has refused to officially join in the coalition but behind the scenes, they are engaging with Saudi Arabia and also talking to the U.S. who are their sworn enemy to at least how to contain this organization and set aside their differences for the sake of fighting together supposedly. The only known ground forces that are in Iraq are of Iranian origin as they have the greatest stake to stop ISIS of reaching Baghdad and the Shiite belt. But the U.S. in order not to antagonize the Arab nations has refused publicly to invite Iran to join this coalition although I believe that they will be the most effective force to confront ISIS. But refusal or not, there is ongoing cooperation between the former enemies just to fight a common enemy. ISIS has done one good thing that the hatred of it has united some as they say strange bedfellows as sworn enemies fight for to contain this organization from spreading in Iraq and Syria and maybe destroying them if they stay united for a while.

Coalition of the forced-2

As I was saying that this coalition has its own compulsion to be in it and the U.S. was the only one to lead it so they decided to join in. But seriously apart from threatening the western world and others, the Arab nations around it are very vulnerable and despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars on arms by some very wealthy Arab nations, they are not ready to confront an organization who are battled hardened, the brothers and sisters in beliefs and who are ready to die for their cause. Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the other gulf nations are scared despite being brothers in faith because they know that without west’s help they would not be able to stop this organization. There is already a great sympathy for it in the Arab and Muslim world and if the rulers don’t do anything about countering their narrative, they will be completely overrun by them. Other nations that have joined the coalition are worried that their nationals who have traveled to the Iraq and Syria and have joined this organization may come back one day to mount attack in their native countries and also to stop the spread this organization out of their own interest are in it. Any which way you want to look at it, all the countries are there for their own interests and the one that should have been there and can make the most impact is not. I am talking about Iran. More of this later.

Coalition of the forced

Do you remember the time that when the second Iraq war or the first one started the coalition that the U.S. cobbled together was dubbed as Coalition of the willing meaning all the nations were involved supposedly by their own free will and the U.S. did not force any nation to join them in the wars. Well here we are at again that the U.S. has made another coalition to go after the ISIS, but I will say that it should be called Coalition of the forced. Although the U.S. did not force any nation but due to their own peculiar needs and fears, most of the nations especially the Arab and some Muslims one have joined it. Especially the Arab nations surrounding Iraq fearing the onslaught of an organization who believe that there should be no boundaries and loathe Arab monarchies have been forced to join this coalition reluctantly. You know I have been following this organization and their ultimate goal is to capture not only the Arab nations but also spread it throughout the world but their main goal is to capture the holy cities of Makkah and Medina in Saudi Arabia from where they can claim immediate legitimacy in the eyes of most if not all the Muslims of the world (especially the Sunnis) that is why Saudi Arabia is so scared since this organization does not believe in the house of Saud and they will do anything to eliminate them if they can and capture all the oil there is to pump and earn money.

On the lighter side-Movies-12 Years a Slave (2013)

A freed slave from the Northeast United States is abducted and spends 12 years in the south working as a slave in brutal conditions in this excellent but sometimes hard to watch true story. An Oscar winner. Highly Recommended

The rise of the ISIS (or IS or ISIL or DAESH)-2

Al-Qaeda is trying to compete with ISIS but is losing and there are now reports that they may be trying to merge into one which will be dangerous not only for the western world but also for the whole world because their vision to is to establish a caliphate which is ruled by one ruler and they have no concept of boundaries between nations. But who is funding this organization. Initially they captured some areas in Iraq and looted its banks to get their hands on millions or even billions of dollars and then they started to sell the oil that they came into possession to make the most financially sound and richest terrorist organization in the world. And with kidnappings and extortions and other assorted crimes (which they do not believe it is a crime let alone a sin) they have a self sustaining organization. But I don’t believe for a minute that it is their only source of revenue as it has been reported that wealthy individuals in the oil rich kingdoms of the Middle East fund this organization since they have a collective hatred of the Shiites and any other Muslim minority and can’t stand the fact that a Shiite government is installed in the lone Arab country. And it is not only the Shiites but also the Kurds who are also Sunnis who have bear the brunt of their attacks but the hatred of these people knows the bounds. And they will keep on killing until they are met with force. I will be writing more about this organization in later articles but for now this is what the world is experiencing.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The rise of the ISIS (or IS or ISIL or DAESH)

Even if you have been living in a cave, you would not escape the latest Middle East involving the extremist Sunni group of ISIS (Islamic state of Iraq and Syria or ISIL or DAESH or its latest incarnation IS-Islamic state. I will use ISIS or just plain IS to shorten the name and what it is really called without mincing any words around it. So who are these IS people and what do they want. IS is a breakaway faction of the other global Islamic Terrorist organization Al-Qaeda who have a falling out with IS leadership and now increasingly Al-Qaeda is becoming irrelevant due to the relentless onslaught of the U.S. drones and other countries particularly awareness of this threat. But while the Al-Qaeda leadership may have been decimated but they are not out completely and are still considered a nuisance in some countries of the Middle East. And while the countries of the world were dealing with Al-Qaeda, the swift rise of IS in Iraq and Syria surprised them (or did they?) and since they have shown more brutality then Al-Qaeda, they are gaining a surprising amount of support from the so called disillusioned Muslims of the west who are joining them in droves. Although IS main goal is to consolidate their positions in Iraq and Syria but their plans in the future will be to conquer the world and establish an Islamic Caliphate ruled by their own narrow version of Islam. It is this version that is attractive to young Muslims who have not seen anything like it before or want to be ruled or live in a so called Islamic state.

Our obsession with technology

I was on an elevator on the way to my office floor and my elevator has a small screen where they show different news to keep the passengers engaged till their destination floor arrives. I read the news as it gives me information before I read it on the internet in my office. One of the news was that people have cut back on their healthcare and other stuffs just to afford technology. And it got me thinking that how much technological obsessed we are that we are ready to sacrifice all the necessities in order to afford the latest phones, tablets and computers and the accessories that have become essential parts of it. It is not only the hardware but the apps and other goods that we download and buy on it that have lead most if not all people to curtail other expenditures in order to be in the race to keep up with our friends’ technological advances. And I see it every day that as there are more technological advances, people are becoming highly dependent on them (I included) that survey after survey is getting released that we will want our phones and tablets more than anything other even in some cases intimate relationship. And I don’t see it slowing down since now middle school kids are getting their hands on technology and increasingly staying connected or their heads buried deep in their phones oblivious to their surroundings. We are essentially become slaves to the technology that we have invented.

The New India-Pakistan border Flare-up

This is what I say when I write about the India-Pakistan relationship. It is just an Illusion that it will get any better or they will become best buddies cooperating in many years. I am talking about the latest border skirmishes that has flare-up again in that part of the world. Fighting has been going on for the last few days with many casualties on both sides, despite encouraging signs since the new Prime Minister of India was sworn in. Now both sides are digging in and there have been lots of war mongering on either side. Although it will be useless to have a regular war between these two Nuclear armed nations, but any mistakes can lead to more and dangerous confrontation. And herein lies the problem that these border skirmishes happen for a while and then all goes quiet for a while and everybody take stock of the situation and then yet again something happens later in the future. It will always be an illusion that any sort of friendship will ever develop between these two nations but some hopeful citizens on both sides keep on trying vainly. There is too much hatred and animosity on both sides to have any meaningful relationship now and in the future. And so some more people die every time relationships deteriorates to such a point where firings and shelling happens and the border people suffer and some more people become widow and orphans and then life goes on but not for the people who are affected.

The 2014 Nobel Peace Prize-2

You see Malala is the second Pakistan to win a Nobel and the first female and Peace Prize, since there was another one, the Pakistani Physicist Abdus Salam who is completely forgotten since he hailed from the Muslim minority sect Ahmedi who are considered non Muslims in Pakistan and have been heavily targeted over the years by the majority Muslim sect. Both of these Nobel winners are not appreciated in their own countries but elsewhere around the world. Malala has been called the agent of CIA, the Israeli Mossad, the Indian spy agency RAW and is often termed as working against Islam. Meanwhile, Killers and Murderers are hailed in Pakistan because they are supposedly working in the name of Islam and are foes of the west. This xenophobic mentally has so much creeped into Pakistani Society that any achievement by any Pakistani outside Pakistan is considered suspicious and dismissed outright. The taliban have already showed their displeasure in this award and many other people in Pakistan with the same mentality have shown the same scorn against here. For example, some are saying that there are many young girls in Pakistan facing the same threat so why did Malala get this award. But you know haters will be haters and instead of celebrating their own kind, they belittle them. I hope next time Nobel should not be given to any Pakistani since they don’t appreciate anybody of their kind going on the top. And this is another prime example.

The 2014 Nobel Peace Prize

It was just announced a few days ago that the young girl from Pakistan who was shot in the head by the Taliban at the age of 15 and is now residing somewhere in the United kingdom Malala Yousafzai has been named the youngest Noble peace prize winner in history of that awards along with a 60 year old Indian Kailash Satyarthi who has been advocating for the abolishment of child labor for many years now. Along it was being discussed that Malala can be one of the winners but the lesser known Indian was surprise winner according to me. First of all I want to congratulate both of them for bringing an honor to their respective countries and they can now work even harder to fulfill the extra liability or burden that has come with this prize and I do hope that they will excel in their mission that they have now become famous for. But while Satyarthi is working in his own country, Malala is still a wanted girl in her own country and cannot go there without getting killed. Although na├»ve people are calling her to come back and fight for girls’ rights, you and I know that it is just a trap to silence this voice. Apart from this, there are many people who think that she is being used by the West to malign Pakistan and even their religion Islam. Although it is not true but the hatred of the regular so called Middle Class Pakis who use western technology but blame the west for all their ails hate anything that brings great awards to any individual Pakis anywhere in the world.

On the lighter side-Movies A Million ways to die in the west (2014)-Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron

A coward farmer in a western town falls for a mysterious woman who has to bring up the courage to confront her husband, a notorious gunslinger in this hit or miss comedy western. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-Edge of Tomorrow (2014)-Tom Cruise

A military officer gets into a time loop and keeps on dying just to wake up again stronger and stronger in his fight against aliens in this better Tom Cruise movie but not that much. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-Library Wars (2013 Japan)

Fun Japanese movie about a futuristic Japan where censorship reigns supreme and the government has created an armed force to enforce the censorship Law. Opposing the government is the Library force out to protect libraries from government censorship. Lots of action and highly enjoyable in a weird way. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Ninja Apocalypse (2014)

A group of ninjas are wrongly accused of killing a leader and have to fight their way from the below ground chamber in this copy of the 1979 movie “Warriors”. You should better watch that one than this. Not recommended