The extensive dependence on reservists in fighting the Iraq and Afghanistan wars frequently results in rather bizarre encounters between members of the same family. Sgt. Tammi Johnson, a reservist, was deployed to Kirkuk Air base in Iraq only to discover she was taking over work tasks presently being done by her son, Derrrick. “This is all just a big coincidence,” said Derrick, “When I found out that she was coming to replace me, my jaw dropped just wondering what the chances were of this occurring.”
The nonstop deployment and redeployment of members of the military adds considerablly to family pressures and results in such a strange situation. A basic problem is the American military has been too long overseas and the same people have for too long been entrusted with responsibility for fighting wars the vast majority of this nation does not want fought. It would be preferable if the Johnsons could spend time together in America.
A report from the Defence Select Committee of Parliament strongly suggested the importance of extending recruitment efforts in Great Britain in order to bring members of min ority groups into the armed forces. The committee noted: “We are deeply concerned that the armed forces are operating at or above levels of concurrent operations they are resourced and structured to deliver for seven out of the last eight years.” In other words, the British miltary is being asked to accomplish tasks that strain their resources and morale among members of the military is decreasing under the strain.
The British government has concluded that when it ventures into tasks that far exceed the capacity of those coming from majority groups within society, the solution is to reach out to minorities and have them fill the gap. The goal has been to have an 8% recruitment level from minorities in Great Britain but only 5.8% are from this group and the Air Force only has 1.6% from minority groups. Perhaps, the solution is to not get involved in military operations in the first place.
As tourists watched on, a police force swept away an attempt to build a Christmas encampment for the homeless on the banks of the Seine river. The tents had been set up opposite the Notre Dame cathedral, but police used gas gas as they charged the homeless defensive position and due to their courage in the face of smells and bad body odor emanating from the Homeless site, the police gained a final victory by making the enemy flee. Tourists booed the heroic efforts of the police, a protestor fell into the Seine, but in the end the homeless were dispersed. The protest group which established tent city– Les Enfants de Don Quichotte(the children of Don Quxiote) claim the government has failed to construct 27,000 new lodgings for homeless people. Founder of the group, film actor, Augustin Legrand, shouted that over 200,000 people were homeless in France. Minister of Housing, Christine Boutin, who supported last year’s protest, condemned tent city and insisted there were sufficient housing for homeless people in France. Pierre Levene, secretary general of Secours Catholique, insists thousands of homeless people lack housing.
There most probably are homeless people in just about every major city in the world. Many factors add into the issue of homeless people, economic factors, social factors, the time of the year, and the willingness of governments to allocate money for those who don’t vote.
There is growing concern among Olympic officials at the possibility pollution in Beijing may be a factor in Olympic competitions. The extensive coal mining boom in China which is stimulating industrial production has also added considerably to pollution in the nation. Beijing lies in a valley surrounded by mountain ranges which make for difficulty in dispersing pollutants. Khalid Mailk, UN representative in Beijing noted: “You have to bear in mind this is the first time the Olympics are being held in a developing country.” Although China has spent at least $16 billion in preparation for the Olympics attempting to deal with environmental concerns, the presence of adverse pollutants may be a factor in the competitions.
According to a lead story in the Airforce Times, “If Bill Fallon has a bad relationship with David Petraeus, he’s sure not saying so publicly.” General Petraeus reports to Admiral Fallon who is in overall command of American troops in the region. There have been many stories the two men do not agree on military strategy and even Fallon does not deny there have been heated arguments between the two men over military issues. One unnamed senior official said “bad relations”between the two men “was the understatement of the century.”
It is unfortunate that Admiral Fallon was not asked to appear before Congress and explain over which issues the two men have argued. The healthy debate between the two men should not be private since they apparently have disagreements pertaining to military strategy. Congress is entitled to know the nature of these disagreements. Of course, there may be personal factors at play since the Bush appointment of an Admiral to head a land operation is rather unusual in the military history of America.
During a recent meeting with Chancellor Merkel of Germany, French President Nicolas Sarkozy shocked the German leader by proposing her nation gain access to French atomic bombs. According to Der Spiegel: “Both the chancellor and her foreign minister were speechless.” The very thought of atomic weapons is against everything modern Germany believes in given the horrors of World War II. There is increasing evidence Sarkozy gets angry at anyone who doesn’t accept his ideas which he usually considers to be correct. He told members of the French cabinet that Chancellor Merkel was a “woman from the east.” This refers to the fact she was born in the former east German communist nation.
Sarkozy increasingly is coming across as a European version of George Bush. He throws out wild ideas, yells and rants at those who dare to question him and he has the finesse of an Energizer bunny as he dashes around the world. He may well be a ticking time bomb.
Rumors are circulating in the Middle East concerning possible serious internal conflicts within the leadership of Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip. Reports suggest a rift between Foreign Ministr Mahmoud Zahar and Prime Minister Haniyeh in which each of the men is worried the other will attempt an assassination. Prime Minister Haniyeh is holed up in a refugee camp where he lives and hesitates to leave in fear of being killed.
All terrorist organizations such as Hamas eventually witness internal battles as individuals seek power. Hamas leaders not only have to be concerned about Israel attempts to kill them, particularly after the recent rocket attack on an Israeli military base, but must always face the prospect that a fellow member of Hamas will carry out the killing task. These reports merely confirm internal weakness of an organization that has lost its way.
The English government in 2004 downgraded cannabis to a Class C drug in hope that its use would not rise in a significant manner. A recent study by YOuth Offending Teams discovered a rather remarkable rise in cannabis use. It is now estimated there has been a 25%-75% increase in its youth among young people in England. According to a King’s College survey in some areas 90% of youth are using cannabis and about 25% of those arrested claim they committed a crime to obtain money for its purchase.
The results are rather surprising, not that more young people would use cannabis, but th extent of its impact upon such a large swath of the youthful population.