BrainBust News

Politics

 

    Headlines

                  That Ohio Flinty Taste: Thanks to a tip from a BBP listener, we learned that the village of

                     Sebring, Ohio is going through a similar disaster as that of Flint residents: lead in

                     drinking water. According to RT.com, roughly 8,000 people have been exposed to

                     unsafe levels of lead in their water, and the Ohio EPA said in a statement that it has

                     "reason to suspect that the operator falsified reports." In addition to the water treatment

                     operator's falsification, Richard Giroux (Sebring's Village Manager) initially denied ever

                     having received letters from the EPA informing him of increased lead levels. This doesn't

                     seem likely at all, as the EPA has several dated letters that show Giroux should have

                     known about the growing issue as far back as last summer. I think stories like this will

                     increase as the impact of austerity continues to rear its ugly face.  

 

                   • Wounded Warrior Project Spends Lavishly: Being a veteran, this one hits close to home.

                     The famous Wounded Warrior Project has come under scrutiny recently for exorbitant

                     spending practices, claims former employees and charity watchdogs. CBS reports that

                     WWP spends roughly 60% of its revenue on veteran programs -- in comparison, Disabled

                     American Veterans Charitable Service Trust spends 96%, and Fisher House spends 91%

                     of revenues on helping veterans. WWP CEO Steve Nardizzi has been fighting a public

                     PR battle over this issue, claiming that the public is uninformed about how charities

                     should best spend their money. The NY Times interviewed several former employees,

                     most of them veterans, who had a different story to tell: $3 million was spent on an all-

                     hands meeting at a 5-star resort in Colorado, for which Mr. Nardizzi rappelled down the

                     side of a building to deliver a keynote address. Wow, cool stunt, man. How much did

                     that cost?

 

                   • Panda Watch 2016: The Iowa caucuses are upon us tomorrow. We highlighted a Politico

                     piece last week describing the nonsensical process of going through Iowa first, but we're

                     going to follow it anyway. Here's how realclearpolitics.com has the polls shaping up

                     heading into tomorrow's big (non-) event:

 

                                                        Democrats                                            Republicans

                    Iowa:                         Clinton 45%; Sanders 42%                Trump 28%; Cruz 23%; Rubio 15%

                    New Hampshire: Sanders 57%; Clinton 38%                 Trump 27%; Kasich 12%; Cruz 12%

                    South Carolina:     Clinton 64%; Sanders 27%                Trump 36%; Cruz 20%; Rubio 14%

 

                   Salon Contributor Puts Up 6 Questions to ask Candidates: Andrew Bacevich of

                     tomdispatch.com wrote a piece for Salon that blew my socks off. He posed six national

                     security questions that should be asked of every presidential candidate. From the

                     increasing burden of the Global War on Terrorism to killer drones and energy

                     independence, Andrew hit on some major topics. He also slammed the moderators of

                     the debates for asking pseudo questions in an attempt to make themselves look good.

                     It is well worth the read, and may even inform some of our discussion on BBP 23.

 

 

     What’s Relevant?

                   The media will have the entirety of their attention pointed towards the early caucuses

                     and primaries; I'm not sure they mean a whole lot at this point. While CNN, Fox and

                     MSNBC are all tripping over themselves to catch a gunfight between candidates, I'll be

                     covering what falls beneath the cracks. States and municipalities strapped for cash are

                     increasingly looking for dangerous solutions to fill in the gaps -- I expect this trend to

                     continue. This is austerity -- you spent too much and now it's time to feel the pain.

                     Schools in Michigan are crumbling and infested with bugs. Roads and bridges around

                     the country are in disrepair. Public pensions, funding for social programs, et al will all

                     face the chopping block if something is not done. The question remains: who is

                     responsible for all of this, and how in the hell do we handle it? 

 

 

Middle East

 

     Headlines

                   • Libya, Extremism and the Consequences of Collapse: This article talks about the current

                     state in Libya and what is going wrong. My article last week that talked about US foreign

                     policy covered much of this information. Although this article is awesome because it

                     shows how right I was there is something else to be gained. One of the major mantras of

                     war is the enemy of my enemy is my friend. This may be the case if ISIL continues to be

                     indiscriminate about who they attack. The power struggle for control of Libya is in the

                     hands of two groups: House of Representatives in Tobruk and the General National

                     Congress in Tripoli. Both of these groups have their own military forces. If ISIL

                     continues their shenanigans, like attacking oil infrastructures they could end up being

                     their own demise in Libya. Attacks like these will create alliance shifts to whichever

                     group can provide the beast security. Once Libya has a unified military and government,

                     their focus will be on rooting out and destroying ISIL.

 

                   • Riyadh Continues to Flaunt Yemen Truce, Scores Killed in Fresh Air-strikes: It is hard to

                     get a good take on what is going on here. Saudi Arabia has had an extensive history of

                     conflicts with Yemen, specifically the Houthi tribe and rebels. This is due to the Shia

                     foundation, which took over the Saudi-backed government in 2014-2015. Although this

                     article is written by an Iranian news source, UK news sources are also reporting that the

                     Saudi operation “Decisive Storm” has the UN questioning its legality. I can say this much

                     Saudi Arabia can pretty much do what it wants in this circumstance. They know that they

                     will receive criticism for conducting strikes on questionable targets, but they also know

                     that they can fund themselves and need very little outside support. Furthermore, since

                     Saudi Arabia is one a key ally to the US and other like-minded western nations they can

                     pretty much do what they want with nothing more than a stern talking to from us. This is

                     also most likely why Decisive Storm is getting so little coverage in America news media.

 

 

     What’s Relevant?

                   •  In order for Islamic fundamental terrorism to be under control or completely removed

                     from the middle east the countries where these threats exist have to be stabilized and

                     equipped to fight and remove the threats. The faster Libya can move forward and

                     reconcile the House of Representatives and the General National Congress the faster

                     they can focus on rebuilding and fighting ISIL. This is the same model that needs to be

                     followed in other countries that are fighting against ISIL, a unified government with a

                     structured military is the best defense against terrorist groups. Here is the catch,

                     countries with these stable governments actually have to be interested in removing

                     terrorist groups. Who knows if that will be the case? The only way to ensure that the

                     government will is if ISIL continues to attack infrastructures that are important to the

                     government. Regretfully citizens are not those targets most governments could not care

                     less about the people that they are supposed to defend.

 

                     As much as most of us want to get mad at Saudi Arabia for conducting strikes on targets

                     that include potentially innocent Yemenis. I cannot help but think that Saudi Arabian led

                     coalition forces are conducting the only way they can to ensure their intended outcome.

                     This concept was briefly touched on during this week’s podcast. The thing it truly takes

                     to win a war against Islamic extremism is horrific and unmentionable acts with

                     questionable international legal implications. I agree with this statement with all my

                     heart. If that is the case then we have two choices either do what it takes and ignore the

                     moral implications or do not get involved in wars with Islamic Extremism. They do not

                     play by our rules and in order to defeat them, we have to play by theirs. If we are

                     unwilling or able to do this then we need to seriously consider whether we need to get

                     involved. Saudi Arabia is playing by their rules and will most likely come out on top.

                     War is ugly; trying to make it otherwise will render it ineffective.

 

                    -Mr. "X"

 

Constitutional Issues

 

          Blake Shcreiber

                Just a few days ago, Senator Josh Green of Hawaii introduced a bill that would require

                    gun owners to have insurance on their firearms that would have to be renewed every 5

                     years that would be meant to cover any and all acts. Senator Green’s reasoning is

                     comparing it to auto insurance, in that this would provide means to relief in case of an

                     accident with a person’s firearm.

 

                     Now, we’ll ignore the fact that many homeowners’ insurance policies already cover

                     (or can be modified) against both theft and liability of firearms.

 

                     That’s not what this article is about. It’s about whether the legislation itself is

                     unconstitutional. I believe it is. Why? It causes undue burden on one’s right to own a

                     firearm. The concept of undue burden is a test that the Supreme Court developed to test

                     the restraints something might have on an individual’s constitutional rights. For

                     instance, segregation of public transportation was used in Virginia in Morgan vs.

                     Virginia. Essentially, if a law places any sort of burden on an individual that prohibits

                     them from practicing their rights, it’s wrong. Now, some people will say “we already have

                     background checks, how could this be any different?” Background checks are not

                     designed to keep individuals who are allowed to own firearms from obtaining them;

                     they’re designed to keep them out of the hands of criminals, the mentally ill, and anybody

                     else who is a threat or not safe enough to own a gun. Insurance, however, serves a very

                     different purpose. It forces you to pay for something that may or may not ever happen.

                     A study last year showed that 1 in 3 Americans owns a gun, but homicides with guns only

                     totaled 8,124 in 2014. Of course, this doesn’t show how many guns are in America, or

                     how many gun injuries there were, but gives us a low-balled estimate on what

                     percentages are actually involved in an injury or death, which comes out to about .008

                     percent of all firearms being causing harm or death. Trying to force insurance on such a

                     statistically small incident does nothing but cause problems for the many Americans

                     who simply want to own a gun for purely legal reasons.

 

                     Creating undue burdens on constitutional rights is wrong and hurts Americans. That’s

                     all that this bill would do; the likely hood of it reducing crime is slim. All it does in the

                     long run is create more loops and hurdles for law-abiding citizens to have to hop through

                     in order to own something that the founding fathers saw a need for. That being said,

                     what essentially amounts to legally mandated insurance on the 2nd Amendment should

                     be considered unconstitutional.

 

 

Featured Content

 

   Click for More

 

                   • BBP 22: Palin is Back

 

                   • AQIM - As little as possible -- Peter Lucier

 

                   • Are Forced Union Dues Constitutional? -- Blake Schreiber

 

                   • What Exaclty Is Our Foreign Policy? -- Mr. "X"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jan 31 2016

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