Apr 072017
 
U.S. Strikes Syria

The photo depicts the 04/07/17 deployment of a Tomahawk missile from the USS Ross on the Shayrat air base in Syria. Photo property of US Navy

 

America stood up for Muslims barred from entering the United States by President Trump’s suspended travel ban!

 

Less than 48 hours after the city of Sheikhun, in Syria’s Idlib province was bombarded with a lethal nerve gas which killed more than 80 including at least 30 children (presumably by the Assad regime), United States launched 59 Tomahawk missiles from US Navy destroyers (USS Ross and USS Porter) in the Mediterranean Sea with the goal of destroying / damaging Syrian government’s ability to deliver more chemical weapons.

The US attack on Syria’s Shayrat airbase was surprising, especially given President Trump’s laconic initial reaction to the massacre in Sheikhun and his vehement opposition to US military action following a similar use of chemical weapons on Syrians by their own government just a few years ago. (It is unclear whether this was a one-time retaliatory action or a beginning of a larger U.S. military campaign.)

The unexpected military action was announced by Pentagon in advance to the Russians to warn their military forces stationed in the area and prevent accidental losses of their personnel or equipment. (It is suspected that the warning which was intended to prevent conflict between the U.S. and Russia may have backfired. According to some reports, our well-intentioned warning may have been shared by the Russians – who support Assad’s government in Syria – with the Syrian regime: several aircrafts have been seen leaving the Shayrat airbase in a hurry just before the U.S. missile strike.)

In a statement, President Trump – apparently moved by images of Syrian children, men and women dying from exposure to nerve gas – said: “No child of god should ever suffer such horror.”

President Trump isn’t easy to understand. He tried repeatedly to ban travel from Syria to the United States. He doesn’t welcome Syrian refugees. His feelings about Islam and its followers are well-known. His sudden urge to retaliate for the massacre in Sheikhun is confusing. It seems to indicate compassion. The statement “No child of god should ever suffer such horror.” suggests that the President may realize that Muslim people in Syria are God’s children even though he’s done more than any other U.S. President to keep them outside of our borders. The sudden act of U.S. retaliation against Assad puts America in a politically difficult position (the missile strike may lead to a conflict between the U.S. and Russia!) in defense of people for whom we – officially! – have no compassion….

Meanwhile, Russian media portrayed the American missile strikes in a negative light, stating that they jeopardize the fight against terrorism in Syria and can be interpreted as an act of United States’ aggression against a sovereign nation. Russia considers calling for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. Bolivia supports it. Iran also condemned American missile strike. American allies: Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, UK, Italy and Australia praise President Trump military action.

While President Trump believes that he acted in our “vital national security interest”(?), many Americans disagree. A spontaneous, one-time missile strike did little to diminish – leave alone eradicate – Syria’s capability to manufacture or deliver chemical weapons. Meeting such a goal would require a much larger military commitment and put America at risk of conflict with Russia. As it is, the single strike is nothing more than an act of interference, an inflammatory show of power by a President who referred to himself – during his presidential campaign – “Not a President of the world”. (Let’s be honest, with President Trump’s policy on immigration and his temporarily suspended travel ban, we have no moral authority to interfere or intervene in Syria.)

Neither the United States nor Syria needs a war. There are over 13 million of Syrians in desperate need and nearly a million facing life-threatening circumstances, the Syrians need HUMANITARIAN help which the U.S. under the current administration denies them.

I may not know the cost of a single Tomahawk missile (leave alone 59 of them!) but I can easily imagine that bringing survivors of the chemical weapons attack in Sheikhun to the United States, providing them with medical care, recovery assistance and – yes! – granting them political asylum would be better, wiser and cheaper, not to mention more humane – and American! – than launching missiles. Better, it would help improve America’s image in the world more effectively and lastingly than a one-time military action which can be seen as a political provocation.

Bottom line? The missile strike didn’t relieve human suffering, it won’t prevent future chemical weapon attacks on Syrians, either. If we don’t care to help the suffering, or reach a political solution, why did we waste American taxpayers money on the military action?…. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that Syria won’t become another Iraq where we didn’t solve either American or Iraqi problems but sacrificed many American lives and lost money badly needed at home.

Anything L.A. Liberal Magazine’s Editor, E. Elrich

 

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Jan 242017
 
L.A. Women’s March Larger than in Washington D.C.

2017 Women’s March in Los Angeles

Many sources put the number of participants in Los Angeles Women’s March at 750,000. (The Women’s March in Washington D.C. is estimated at 400,000 – 500,000 participants.) It was one of the largest protests in L.A.’s history and yet, there were no unrests and no one was arrested. The march was well organized. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was one of the speakers. Los Angeles along with its leaders stepped up and delivered. Our message was clear: we will protect our values and our rights.

We didn’t stand alone, similar marches took place throughout the United States and the world. Celebrities joined Women’s Marches. The participation of celebrities from the entertainment industry gave more visibility to our common cause. Some of the celebrities that took part in January 21st 2017 protests in the United States are:

Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman, Blake Lively, Alicia Keys, Vanessa Hudgens, Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Mandy Moore, Jane Fonda, Chelsea Handler, Maria Bello, Charlize Theron, Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, Emma Watson, Drew Barrymore, Amy Schumer, Ashley Judd, Felicity Huffman, Idina Menzel, Zendaya, Gillian Anderson, Helen Mirren, America Ferrera, Katy Perry, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Jessica Chastain, Katie Holmes, Rihanna, Jamie Lee Curtis, Whoopi Goldberg, Yoko Ono, Cynthia Nixon, Rosie Perez, Mindy Kaling, Bella Thorne, Uzo Aduba, Emily Ratajkowski, Elizabeth Gillies, Amber Tamblyn, Janet Mock, Lena Dunham, Melissa Harris-Perry, Diane Guerrero, David Beckman, Charlie Brotman, Suki Waterhouse, Sir Ian McKellan, Rita Ora and others.

In addition to the entertainment industry’s celebrities there were real-life legends standing up for what’s right. Some of them were: Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem and Michael Moore.

My favorite sign carried during Women’s Marches? Make America THINK, Again! As we’ve seen on January 21st 2017, America is thinking and most of the thinking people are in Los Angeles. 

Anything L.A. Magazine’s Editor, E. Elrich

 

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Aug 222016
 
Rio 2016: American Disgrace

(Photo: Reuters/Ivan Alvarado)

12-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte (32) and three U.S. swimmers Conger, Bentz and Feigen managed to cast a shadow over 2016 Olympic Games and the US victory in Rio.

The group reported to Brazilian police and freely shared in interviews with the media that they were robbed at a gun point – during a taxi ride – by men impersonating police officers. Lochte stated that he was in fear for his life…. All four blamed the circumstances – foreign country, foreign language, lack of security, etc. – for their ordeal.

Only after Brazilian police investigation introduced videos documenting their whereabouts and actions did the athletes admit the truth.

They were in fact confronted while in a taxi by a man brandishing a gun. The circumstances however were entirely different from those they initially reported.

The athletes were apparently drunk and caused significant property damage to a Brazilian gas station’s restroom. Having vandalized the property they attempted to escape without paying for the damage. There was no confusion. A volunteer translator facilitated the exchange between the drunken athletes and armed security guard employed by the gas station. He demanded they pay for the damage they caused. The security guard didn’t threaten anyone’s life. He threatened to report the incident to Brazilian authorities.

Instead of compensating the gas station for damages, APOLOGIZING and sleeping off their shenanigans, our guys concocted and reported to Brazilian police the story of a fictitious robbery.

The cowardly lie which eventually exposed the bunch for the vandals they were in this case reflected poorly on the entire American team, if not the Country. It stole the limelight from world-class athletes competing in the Olympic Games in Rio and generated anti-American feelings in Brazil and beyond.

Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo da Costa Paes said: “My feeling is one of pity, they did not represent the (other) American athletes that are here.” In spite of the Mayor’s generous comment, the unpleasant feelings linger.

Lochte came back to the States first thereby avoiding consequences in Brazil. Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger had to testify in Brazil before being allowed to return to the United States. The fourth participant in the lie, Jimmy Feigen made a payment of $10,800 in Brazil in a deal that allowed him to return home as well.

The Olympics might be over, but the scandal isn’t. Lochte and company might have to face consequences at home from USA Swimming AND the United States Olympic Committee. Lochte who won gold metal in Rio in a 4 x 200m freestyle relay race is likely to lose millions in anticipated commercial endorsements.

Lochte publicly apologized. It’s been said that he’s made a mistake. Drunk driving is a “mistake”, too. Still certain “mistakes” don’t go unpunished and intoxication isn’t a valid legal defense. Breaking the law is breaking the law. These four members of US swimming team have broken several laws: vandalism, filing a false police report, making false accusations as well as a bunch of unwritten rules: basic human decency, responsibility, accountability for one’s actions…. Their disgusting behavior embarrassed and disgraced America on International arena.

The lesson? Being on the Olympic team is an HONOR. Athletes competing in the Olympics represent their Country. The actions of Lochte and his friends – his numerous apologies not withstanding – didn’t represent American values or the United States well.

Anything L.A. Magazine’s Editor / E. Elrich

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