10 April 2017   Leave a comment

There are some ambiguities emerging in the US policy toward Syria.  On Sunday, US Ambassador to the UN indicated that the strike on Syria was part of the objective to remove Syrian President Assad from office; on the same day US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicated that the US is primarily interested in defeating Daesh (the Islamic State).  Then today, Press Secretary Sean Spicer indicated that one of the US “red lines” was the use of barrel bombs and not simply chemical weapons.  The  Syrian regime has used barrel bombs extensively in the civil war, so that red line has a much lower threshold than the use of chemical weapons.  These issues are important since they provide insight into what might happen next.  If the US restricts its bombing to only the use of chemical weapons, then it is highly likely that we will not see another military strike and nothing will have changed.  But if more strikes occur in the absence of a chemical attack, then the implication is that the US is going to be an active participant in the war.  That possibility is an absolute nightmare.  It is highly unlikely that either Russia or Iran will abandon Assad under pressure.

Jeanette Rankin was the first woman to serve in the Congress and she was sworn in one hundred years ago.  Since that time, women have steadily increased their representation in Congress and today woman comprise 19.4 percent of the members of Congress.  The world average is 23.3 percent, with the Nordic countries having the highest representation:  41.7 percent.  Interestingly, the US actually scores favorably with other countries in terms of the overall position of women in society according to the UN Gender Development Index.  The discrepancy between the over ranking and representation in the national legislature is worth investigation.

Almost 50% of federal arrests in the US in 2014 were for immigration-related offenses.  Since 2004 federal arrests for other offenses such as drugs or weapons have dropped sharply.  Those arrests are also concentrated with distinct geographic areas of the US.  According to the Pew Research Center:

“The geographic distribution of federal arrests also shows the growing emphasis on immigration offenses. In 2014, 61% of all federal arrests – or more than 100,000 – occurred in just five federal judicial districts along the U.S.-Mexico border. In 2004, those five districts – one each in Arizona, California and New Mexico, plus two in Texas – accounted for 40% of federal arrests.”

For a country whose demography has relied heavily on immigration, these statistics are provocative.

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Posted April 10, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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