Author: Stephan Yenca

Deja Vu: Growing Tension as Iran Could Repeat History

The House Chamber on Capitol Hill erupted in a standing ovation during the State of the Union address when President Obama remarked: “Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal.” As congressional members applauded the president’s stated intent to prevent a rogue Middle-Eastern nation from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, a familiar scene emerged. In 2003, President George W. Bush outlined his intent to lead coalition forces into Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power and eliminate the threat of alleged weapons of mass destruction.  The resulting conflict cost the nation over $800 billion, and more importantly, over 4,000 American lives without ever yielding a single WMD. This time the threat to national security is more tangible because the radical Iranian government is actively enriching uranium.  While the theocratic Iranian establishment must be prevented from ever producing or possessing a nuclear weapon, the danger of committing our troops and resources to a full-scale war followed by costly reconstruction is ever present. Some media outlets have exacerbated the situation by running headlines like “Iran Poised to Attack US” in reference to the latest report by the Obama appointed (DNI) James R. Clapper. “The 2011 plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. shows that some Iranian officials—probably including...

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Quick Take: Showdown in The Palmetto State

The GOP debates have come to a close in South Carolina.  As Rick Perry resigned from the presidential primaries, he left an endorsement for Newt Gingrich, turning the pressure on for the last four candidates to make a significant mark in the hearts and minds of voters in the Palmetto State. Thursday’s debate opened with CNN moderator John King referencing recent allegations made by Newt Gingrich’s ex-wife in an ABC interview, in which she says could destroy Newt’s campaign.  When King asked the former Speaker of the House if he wanted to take some time to respond to the claims, an angered but undaunted Gingrich replied, “No. But I will.” “The destructive nature of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for office, and I’m appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that,” said Gingrich as the audience rose and applauded. Rick Santorum, emboldened by the announcement of his official victory in Iowa, aggressively engaged Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich as he sought to gain momentum and escape from 4th place in South Carolina.  He raised the issue of Romney’s electability versus Obama, citing the similarities between the President’s healthcare plan and Romney’s Massachusetts healthcare mandate.  Santorum also hammered Gingrich who had called for the former Pennsylvania senator to drop out of the race...

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Leaner Isn’t Meaner: An Analysis of the Administration’s Defense Cuts

In light of growing economic concerns, President Obama unveiled his plan for defense spending cuts in a rare appearance at the Pentagon. The President placed an emphasis on downsizing the manpower of conventional forces in favor of utilizing fewer and better-trained ground troops in future conflicts. In conjunction with this press conference, the Department of Defense released a guideline outlining the new priorities of the United States military in accordance with Obama’s budgetary proposal. The President’s plan has ignited debate amongst voters, pundits, and politicians as to whether the cuts are necessary, too great in size and scope, or too small. Considering the security issues America currently faces, there are a number of concerns raised by the details of this plan. Obama has earmarked $489 billion in defense budget cuts over the next decade. That’s in addition to $600 billion in potential cuts from a failure of Congress to agree deficit reduction after the August 2011 debt ceiling deal. The defense industry has been an integral part of the United States since the end of World War II, turning private contractors into profitable job providers. However, this defense plan is expected to cause many defense companies to tighten their belts. In an anticipatory move regarding the looming cuts in the defense budget, Boeing has already planned to close an aircraft facility in Wichita, Kansas. This will result in the...

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What’s The Big Fracking Deal?

While finishing up an evening of dining and holiday shopping in downtown Pittsburgh, the commotion of gathering crowds and police lights outside the convention center captured my attention. Across the street from a conference of energy industry officials and staff, a small group was beating drums while protesting against the industrial development of the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania. The developing shale oil industry has quickly become a hotbed of controversy as the process of shale extraction has been dramatically revolutionized with the development of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” This is where a highly pressurized mixture of water, sand, and additives are pumped into sedimentary rock to allow for the extraction of fossil fuels. Unsurprisingly, it is the additives that are at the heart of the controversy.  But just what are they and why are people so upset about them? The fluid used for fracking is composed of 99.5% water and sand while the rest is a mixture of chemicals, some of which are contaminants, such as benzene and acid.  Many environmental organizations, like Greenpeace and Riverkeepers, have the misguided fear that the fracking process will result in contamination of groundwater, even though it has been proven that fracking itself shows no definitive link to contamination as drill lines are cemented to prevent contact between fracking fluids and water supplies. While detractors consider this industrial development to be an ecological nightmare, many believe the shale industry to be the much-needed...

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A Wish List for Real Change

The hours of daylight have waned and the temperature has dropped. Across the country many are rushing to complete shopping, making last minute preparations for the holiday agenda, or packing their bags to be in the company of loved ones. Throughout American neighborhoods and cities, the familiar sights and sounds of gleaming lights and sentimental songs all herald the arrival of Christmas. It is interesting that a holiday, whose central theme is the redemption of mankind, is followed by the start of a new year. However, in a time that is usually reserved for the aspirations of “peace on earth” and “good will toward men,” the reality we see in the news is much more grim. Tensions have risen between the U.S. and Iran with the recent capturing of a U.S. military drone.  This comes amidst the strong possibility of Iran engaging in the development of nuclear weapons to use to whatever nightmarish ends.  In response, the Iranian military has conducted naval maneuvers to seal the off the Strait of Hormuz which would result, in addition to many other things, in a harsh spike in gas prices. China continues to affront the U.S. economy by raising tariffs on American imported automobiles. This will have an adverse effect on the industry, which has struggled to stay afloat with government bailout funds. Over the past year China has proposed replacing the U.S....

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