ISIS Might Be Collapsing From Within

Everyone remembers the meteoric rise of ISIS and how it was quickly transitioned into the creation and announcing of the Islamic State. Everyone then remembers how IS fighters swept through Syria and Iraq, capturing major cities and villages with barely any resistance and setting up a massive, unbroken, zone of control through both countries. I’m sure that people then remember how ISIS became the Islamic State and make grandiose statements and demands as it began ethnic cleansing of minorities while also frequently executing the foreign hostages it was trying to get ransoms for. People also probably remember IS’ ill-fated attempt to take the border city of Kobane and how it has been attracting more and more fighters to the cause. That little debacle very well may have been the beginning of the end for ISIS.sgt_hack_islamic_state_logo

Reports are coming in that point to internal dissent and a potential collapse amongst IS’ fighting forces. As the whirlwind of success has become a long, slow grind and the group begins to suffer defeats, morale is continuing to drop amongst IS fighters. Airstrikes from the US-led coalition have continued to degrade and smash ISIS fighters and abilities wherever possible and the recent success of Kurdish forces in both Iraq in Syria means that IS is losing control of the hundreds of villages they once controlled. Now that an Iraqi army, supported by Shiite militias, are fighting their way towards Tikrit, tensions between local and foreign IS fighters are adding to a powder keg that’s already looking to blow.

Activists from Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (a group based in the IS stronghold of Raqqa) point to disputes and gunfights between local and foreign fighters that have resulted in deaths. They also point to IS fighters being technically executed for breaking laws but in reality for trying to desert. Along with that, corpses have been found near the Syrian-Turkish border that point to foreign fighters who were trying to escape but were caught and killed by fellow IS fighters. While IS continues to recruit foreign fighters by the hundreds, many have little to no military skills and are only signing up to live in the Islamic State, not fight for it. This is leading to even more tensions and as these tensions continue to build, the fighting effectiveness of IS will continue to fall. And as that continues to fall, the group will find itself easier and easier to defeat. These defeats will lead to further drops in morale which will lead to less foreign and local recruits as well as more and more desertions and IS will find itself a false state with no army.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

Gay Couples Marry in Alabama After Court Refuses Stay

When Alabama approved gay marriage, those fighting for gay rights saw it as a massive step in the right direction and hoped that other red states would follow suit. However when the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore, threw up roadblocks in the way of gay marriage, people thought that the battle might be lost and that gay men and women wouldn’t be able to get married in Alabama court houses. Moore issued an edict that directed judges in Alabama to not hand out any marriage licenses to gay couples until the US Supreme Court had ruled whether or not it was constitutional. Moore’s argument was that Alabama state judges weren’t bound by a federal ruling that struck down Alabama’s ban of same-sex marriage that was handed down last month.gay_marriage

It turns out the US Supreme Court is standing by its previous statements and has demanded that Alabama probate judges start handing out marriage licenses to gay couples around the state who want to get married. The earlier ruling came from U.S. District Court Judge Callie Granade and she had ruled that Alabama’s prohibition was unconstitutional. However she also put her ruling on hold until Monday after which the whole of the US Supreme court, minus Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, decreed the Alabama’s ban was unconstitutional and that judges would have to begin handing out certificates to whichever couples wanted them.

Due to the decision of the Supreme Court, Alabama is now the 37th state in the United States of America to allow gay marriage. Local justices in the state had already been refusing Moore’s directive to not marry any same-sex couples before the official decision was made but having the backing of the Supreme Court means that everything is now legal and those judges who were holding out and now required to marry anyone who asks, regardless of gender and orientation. This is a big blow for equal rights (Alabama is heavily conservative and highly religious) and a red state like Alabama legalizing gay marriage is sure to bring hope and morale to those fighting for the same treatment in other states.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

China Upgrades Nuclear Capabilities

China has always been seen by the US as a sleeping dragon that was waking up. Fuelled by almost unprecedented economic growth, the Chinese government has been modernizing and expanding its influence at a rate that is taking people by surprise. From talking about enforcing maritime boundaries to investing in African and Latin American countries that the West has routinely ignored, China is making waves on an international scale and people are finally starting to take notice. 2014 marked a new level of Chinese hard and soft power expansion and, with tensions in the South Asia sea growing, the announcement that China has upgraded its nuclear capabilities has governments across the world interested and concerned.

China recently announced that it had attached nuclear warhead-tipped missiles to its nuclear-powered submarine fleet, allowing missiles to be launched all over the world once the subs get within range. This is a big upgrade to China’s Seconds Strike (as in the retaliatory strike after receiving nuclear bombardment) capabilities and is definitely a cause for concern to countries who are looking to stymie China’s economic and political rise as a world leader. While the upgrade in capabilities is enough of a cause for concern, it comes along with a recent speech by President Xi Jinping exhorting the military to be prepared to win a major war in the future. While there is no war on the horizon, the increasing ties between Russia and China coupled with US-led Western-Russian tensions reaching a new low is leading to a number of countries perking their heads up and finally taking notice.

China still cannot match the US when it comes to military capability but as China’s economy continues to increase as US-influences continues to diminish we will be facing a shift in world power and leadership that many in the US don’t realize is coming. As long as the United States continues to be hypocritical on human rights issues and starting wars it can’t win (along with constantly making new enemies by throwing its weight around in arenas it has no business), more and more people will look to China both as a leader and as a counter-balance to US hubris. Hopefully our generals and politicians are realizing their mistakes and we can avoid a future war with a China that is increasing in readiness.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

Mexican Students Protest in Capital

Mexico has had a pretty bad international image over these last few weeks and months. First, a group of American civilians were kidnapped and murdered by what’s suspected to be a group of ex-special forces mercenaries, known as Grupo Hercules, who work for the Mexican government. More recently, the country has been shattered by massive civilian protests against government corruption that were started by the kidnapping and potential murder of 43 teaching students from Guerrero State. The students were kidnapped after attending a protest in Iguala and it is strongly suspected that the mayor of the city, Jose Luis Abarca, and his wife are both connected to local drug cartels and ordered the kidnappings and probable executions. With forensic tests being carried out on bodies that were found in a mass grave and that had been burned and chopped into pieces, the entire country is waiting with bated breath to see if the story of the missing students has finally come to an end.

Understandably, people were furious about what happened to the students. But that anger has now given way to something much larger and cathartic; the entire country seems to be gripped in a seething, cathartic combination of anger, an exhaustion of being afraid, and of derision towards the government that they see as obviously having a hand in the disappearance of the students. The potential massacre has finally unleashed all of the pent up anger and frustration that Mexican citizens have felt for years about a government that they see as being corrupt, inefficient, uncaring, and in the hands of the cartels who have killed so many innocents. This unleashing has led to a series of massive protests that have crippled entire cities and that have left the government reeling from the backlash. Now, as more and more protests occur and Mexico City itself is bracing for one of the largest as of yet, the world is watching to see how the Mexican government responds and whether they will actually attempt to implement some of the very reasonable demands of the Mexican people.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.

The Navy is Starting to Go Green

There is no person who can’t feel a swell of pride and awe as they watch gigantic naval ships leave the dock with weaponry bristling and crews waving to those they’re leaving behind. The United States Navy has played so many important roles throughout the history of this country and will continue to play so many more that those in charge of the military have decided to start going green in an attempt to cut fuel costs, increase rapid response deployment capabilities, and help save the environment while they’re at it. The Navy just announced the commission of a new amphibious assault ship, the USS America and while the ship is devastatingly (literally) impressive, one of the most impressive facts is that it’s the second US Navy ship to be powered by a hybrid electric drive. While it might not seem like all that much, saving fuel and increasing efficiency is one of the most aspects of military development and this new ship is showing that the Navy is taking future fuel issues seriously and planning ahead.

Fuel and energy is always one of the leak points in any countries military plans; logistics always are. There have been countless examples throughout history of giant armies faltering and failing due to poor logistics and an insufficient amount of fuel (either petroleum based or other). As weapons, technology, and armor increases, so to does the amount of fuel and energy needed to keep everything running in perfect condition and at complete readiness. With fuel convoys and refueling missions being some of the most dangerous and costly, in terms of both money and lives, these new hybrid engines will help to cut down on the need to put so many of our men and women in harms way. Along with these new ship engines, the military is also starting to use solar panels to both help charge generators on base as well as to charge electronics in the field (these panels go on uniforms). It seems as though we’re moving away from relying on fuel for out military and that can only mean it will be quicker and more efficient in the future.

If you’d like to read more, the link is here.