Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton- Review

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No matter what side of the political spectrum you are on, you are going to want to read Secretary Hillary Clinton’s newest memoir, Hard Choices. Clinton released the new book about her time as the 67th Secretary of State in June 2014. She discusses what led into her taking the honorable position, her work promoting democracy around the world, and her methods and time diffusing crises around the world.

In Hard Choices, Clinton describes the reluctance she had at first to take the position. She was convinced that there were so many more qualified individuals that should have taken the job, but President-elect Barack Obama made the case to her. He pleaded that she could continue promoting women’s rights all over the world, build America’s international relations with allies, and that, frankly, the Administration would need her. She weighed her options, and then made her decision. The rest is history.

Clinton talks about working with nations in the Asian continent quite a bit. She discusses the reluctance of China to have any real diplomatic influence on its neighbors, and how some of the political leaders in that nation are as opaque as the political system. She also talks about how the fight for democracy in Burma was, at some points… interesting, to say the least. She wrote about what one of the leaders said, finding it just as humorous as when it first was spoken, “The Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament, Shwe Mann, another former general, met with me…’We’ve been studying your country trying to understand how to run a Parliament,’ he told me. I asked if he’d read books or consulted with experts. ‘Oh no,’ he said. ‘We’ve been watching the West Wing.’

European nations, and their long-standing relationships with America, are also discussed in Hard Choices. Clinton discusses why Europe’s alliance with the United States dipped before she was sworn in as Secretary. “Most of our European allies disagreed with the decision to invade Iraq.” But, as both America and Europe pursued common interests under the Obama Administration, trust, essential for democracy to thrive, was restored. During the stressful dialogue started with Iran on its nuclear program, on quelling the empty threats by North Korea, and in anti-terror operations, the United States and traditional allies, like Britain and France, regrew the relationship that has existed since the beginning of the Republic.

The operation to take down Osama bin Laden, and bring him to justice, came because of Clinton’s advocation. Her reasoning came because she is no stranger to the pain al-Qaeda brought upon America. As a Senator from New York, she helped secure the very significant $21 billion in funding to rebuild the World Trade Center site. She supported the invasion of Afghanistan, believing that it could simultaneously help root out terrorism and improve the condition of Afghani women. The opportunity to kill bin Laden was not one that came without plenty of patience, but when it did come, Clinton, “laid out the case, including the potential damage to our relationship with Pakistan and the risks of a blown operation.” She then added, “But, I concluded, the chance to get bin Laden was worth it.” The plan went forward, with US Seal Team Six storming the compound, taking down bin Laden, and recovering invaluable intelligence on future al-Qaeda operations. Clinton made the decision, along with President Obama, that trust could be placed in our troops, and it came out a complete success.

The crisis in the area of Gaza in 2012 was one that demanded undivided attention. A long-ensued battle between Israelis and Palestinians came to blows in the tiny 139-sq-ft strip on the Mediterranean one again. A fight that hadn’t been intensified to the point of mass conflict since 2008, when Israel ceased to occupy Gaza, Clinton was on the case from the very beginning. She worked hand-in-hand with (at the time) Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to bring a ceasefire to the conflict. Over 100 people had already perished in the fighting, many women and children, both Israeli and Palestinian, and the condition of innocents has always gained the attention of Hillary Clinton. Negotiations between Morsi, Clinton, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proceeded, where an agreement was reached that set out a comprehensive plan to end the fighting, and find a final solution to the conflict as a whole. Fighting ended after the agreement, and Clinton said that, “the ceasefire held better than anyone expected.” As now, an end to the current fighting in Gaza, where over 1000 people have died already, is being pursued along the lines of the 2012 ceasefire agreement.
Clinton discusses the issues we face in today’s world. She discusses the dire threat of Russian aggression, which she sees as Vladimir Putin’s goal of “reclaiming the Soviet Empire.” Clinton explains that, “we’re all in this together,” when it comes to Climate Change and energy. She wants the upcoming 2015 International Paris meeting on Climate Change to achieve real and beneficial reductions in our emissions, while helping to grow the US economy through green-collar jobs and new energy exploration, including solar, wind, and geothermal technologies. Finally, she discusses how Cold War-esque diplomacy will not work in the modern world, where both nations and groups pose threats. She explains what she calls “smart power,” which is the advocacy of democracy and freedom though the internet, technology, and human connections with everyday citizens.

The final discussion in Hard Choices is focused upon human rights, which Clinton calls the “unfinished business” of the 21st Century. Back in 1995, in a famous speech in Beijing, Clinton proclaimed that, “human rights are women’s rights and women’ rights are human rights.” She also discusses the fact that the growth in women’s job holdings in the US from 37% in 1979 to 47% in 2009 attributed to “more than $3.5 trillion in GDP growth over four decades.” Another argument that is made in Hard Choices is the fact that when women are a part of peace processes, “they tend to focus discussion on issues like human rights, justice, national reconciliation, and economic renewal.” Hillary Clinton, as she has done for her entire life, is nowhere near stopping now in her work pursuing rights for women here in America and abroad.

All in all, Secretary Hillary Clinton’s memoir of her time as Secretary of State is candid, revealing, and truly a testament to the challenges we face in today’s world. Time will tell if future ambitions exist, but one thing is certain: Clinton isn’t done yet.

Author Biography- Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton:

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton served as the First Lady of the United States to the 42nd President, Bill Clinton. She went on to become a U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Senator from New York. In the 2008 election, Clinton was a leading candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination. (Credit to The White House)

Why Boris Nemtsov’s Assassination Matters

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Boris Nemtsov’s fierce opposition to the actions taken by the Putin Administration in Russia was one of the strongest seen. Nemtsov, a former Deputy Prime Minister under Boris Yeltsin, was one of the most influential people in the introduction of capitalism in Russia after the Soviet Union’s fall in 1991. He was a leader of, along with Gerry Kasparov, the Solidarnost movement in Russia.
Nemtsov in more recent years was a powerful critic of President Vladimir Putin’s policies, especially the corruption related to the 2014 Sochi Olympics and the invasion of Ukraine. In the last months he had been planning marches in Russia to protest these 2 major actions by the Putin government.
But, on February 27th, Boris Nemtsov was shot 4 times in the back and killed right in front of the Kremlin.
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The assassination of Boris Nemtsov appears to be a contract killing, which has become much-used by the Putin government to silence its critics. Dramatically staged in front of the Kremlin on the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge, Nemtsov’s murder was a message to the Russian people that dissent will not be tolerated by Vladimir Putin.
The official story is that the identity of the killer(s) is unknown. Pro-Putin supporters say that Nemtsov gave Putin no credible threat and therefore the President had no reason to order his assassination. They, and the Russian media, try to pin the blame on Islamic terrorists who may have strived for vengeance for Nemtsov’s stance on the Charlie Hebdo attack.
If we believe that Islamic terror theory, why Nemtsov? Why not someone who influenced Russian actions toward Muslims much more than Nemtsov? Why not Putin himself, because of his leadership of the Chechen Wars? The theory just doesn’t make sense.
The only reason that checks out is that Putin himself ordered Nemtsov’s assassination. This would follow precedent, as evidenced by the high-profile killings of Anna Politkovskaya, Alexander Litvinenko, and Boris Berezovsky, among others. In all of these cases, those killed had fervently worked to protect democracy from the Putin Administration’s goal to dismantle it.
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The real reason Nemtsov was killed now, in February 2015, was revealed by Russian dissenter Kseniya Sobchak (daughter of Putin’s mentor Anatoly Sobchak). Sobchak said that Nemtsov was preparing an exposé definitively proving the presence of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine. This would have changed the game in Putin’s mission to conquer Ukraine, and this is backed up with the report that Nemtsov’s hard drive and papers were confiscated by police subsequent to his murder. So, Putin had Boris Nemtsov killed for the dual reasons of preventing the Russian presence in Ukraine report and to continue to build the culture of fear in Russia. Putin’s goal is not to return to the Soviet Union, but that is an inspiration. He strives to create the strongest Russian Empire ever known, and runs the government on violent Russian nationalism and fear. Of course, an empire cannot be built when dissent is present. Which is why Vladimir Putin killed Boris Nemtsov. And why this is just the beginning.

The Americans: Why It’s Important That We Understand 1980s Afghanistan

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(If you are interested in learning more about the show, please click here to go to the official site before reading the rest of this article.)

My favorite show, “The Americans,” has gotten off to a great 3rd season. This season, one of the major focuses is on the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, and also on the American response to it. The 2 main protagonists, Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, have been running assets to gain the Soviet upper hand against American involvement with the opposition to the Soviet-backed Afghan Government. This decade of conflict, from the Saur Revolution of 1979 to Soviet troop withdrawal in 1989, has still been a major influence on foreign and domestic events in the years since and will only become even more influential.

Unfortunately, until “The Americans,” the only widely-viewed media about this conflict was the 2007 movie “Charlie Wilson’s War,” and the novels written by Khaled Hosseini.

To understand many of the world’s events beyond the basic rhetoric put out by pundits on TV, we must understand the events of the 1980s in Afghanistan. I will only focus on the events in Afghanistan until 1982, the same year Season 3 of “The Americans” is set in.

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Credit Here. The Saur Revolution.

The Beginning: The Saur Revolution:

In 1973, Mohammed Daoud Khan overthrew the King, his cousin, who had ruled Afghanistan since the 1930s. This dissent began during his service in many different Afghan government positions and as Prime Minister. As Prime Minister, his major focus was on the Afghan reunification with the Pashtuns, but conflict that came with that led to his resignation. After taking power in a bloodless coup, Daoud Khan passed major reform to strengthen the military and promoted a republic in Afghanistan by naming himself President. His greatest mistake was siding with the Pashtuns over the other tribal groups in Afghanistan, which led to the direct opposition by Islamic Fundamentalists and indirect opposition by the Soviets, who Daoud Khan had tried to reduce ties with.

After the murder of Mir Akbar Khyber, a leader of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), the leading Communist Party in Afghanistan, it was the beginning of the end for Daoud Khan. The Communists gained support from the people by inflammatory speeches and other propaganda. In April 1978, the Daoud Khan government came to a violent end when PDPA rebels stormed the presidential palace and Daoud Khan was killed, putting the Communists in power.

Communist Trouble From The Beginning:

The first Communist leader to take over, Nur Muhammed Taraki, was assassinated in an inside coup by fellow PDPA member Hafizullah Amin. Distrusting Amin, the Soviets had him assassinated in December 1979, and they replaced him with the Soviet-organized government of Babrak Karmal. The Soviet government also mobilized troops to back the Karmal Government, which changed the game in the region substantially.

IMG_1915 Public Domain. The Regions of Afghanistan The Mujahideen Fought In

Carter Administration Response And Conflict Continuation:

After the installation of Karmal by the Soviets and troop mobilization of the Red Army, American politicians- both on the Republican and Democratic sides- worried that the Soviets would begin to move further into the Middle East. The Soviet Union had long coveted a warm-water port, and the invasion of Afghanistan positioned them for further invasion possibly into Pakistan. The worry that the Soviets were moving to take over Middle Eastern oil and that the ideology behind the Iranian Revolution would spread was prominent.

Americans were ready to end détente.

When the invasion happened, and that it was certain that the Soviets were there to stay, President Jimmy Carter made really good moves and really bad ones.

The Good Moves:

• Carter ended the Soviet Wheat Deal in 1980, which was a major institute of the Détente Era.

• Carter also issued the Carter Doctrine, which was to state that, quoted from Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski:

“An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

• Carter supported generous American contributions to the refugees from Afghanistan who had fled to Pakistan.

The Bad Moves:

• Carter decided to refuse to allow American Olympic athletes to participate in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. This caused great unhappiness among the people, who believed it would be better to beat the Soviets in medal count than to not compete at all.

• Carter also reinstated registration for the draft for young males.

Overall, I believe that Carter took very appropriate actions, and I support his good moves not because we share the same party (we do) but that they worked. Unfortunately, his bad moves, along with the Iranian Hostage Crisis, led to the election of Ronald Reagan as President in 1980.

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Credit Here. Mujahideen Fighters In The Kunar Province.

The Reagan Administration: The First 2 Years

(I will only cover the years of 1981 & 1982 here because that is the point “The Americans” has reached so far. It is not to say that the events after 1982 are unimportant. I will include some information from 1983 and on, but only limited amounts.)

The Carter Administration had authorized funding for anti-Communist fighters- Mujahideen- in Afghanistan, but under Reagan this program greatly expanded. Operation Cyclone, as it was called, became part of the larger Reagan Doctrine that supported anti-Soviet and anti-Communist resistance around the world. Partnering with similar programs initiated by Egypt, Britain, China, and others, over $3 billion was spent on the opposition effort in Afghanistan by the U.S.

The ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence service, was the intermediary for the activities conducted during Operation Cyclone. While it is easily to image a large American force training the Mujahideen, only about 10 CIA operatives were in the region because the Agency didn’t want to have the threat of being blamed if something went wrong. With American and other international funding, the ISI trained and armed over 100,000 Mujahideen.

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Philip and Elizabeth Jennings On “The Americans”

Aftermath:

At the current point “The Americans” is at, I do not want to overextend what I feel is necessary information. In the future I may write another article, a sort-of Part 2, covering 1983-1989, but I do not see that coming in the foreseeable future.

Now, I leave you in the trustworthy hands of the creators, directors, and producers, Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields, to reveal how the events in Afghanistan in the 1980s are very relevant and influential to today’s world.

“The Americans” is currently airing on FX Wednesday nights at 10 PM EST.

The Top 10 Greatest American Presidents

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To rank the leaders of our nation is a difficult task, and honestly is one that is almost impossible. Do some events outweigh others, and should they reflect back on the President? Do certain qualities shine brighter than others?

Though this article is a matter of opinion, there is a lot of fact behind my choices. 2 of these men have presided over the two worst economic times in our history. Looking in terms of political party, there is one Independent, one Democratic-Republican, 3 Republicans (1 modern, 2 before the Conservative Revolution inside the GOP), and 5 Democrats.

I study Presidential History because, to fulfill my life’s goal to help more people than ever imagined before, I need to be elected President. My path will be both similar and different than the other men (and women, after 2017) that have held the office. There have been 44 Presidents, but only a few have been true leaders.

This is my list of those Americans:

10) President Theodore Roosevelt

9) President Dwight D. Eisenhower

8) President James Madison

7) President Jimmy Carter

6) President Bill Clinton

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5) President Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12th, 1809 in Kentucky. Growing up a poor boy in Indiana, he learned the virtues of hard work and compassion.

In the 1830s, Lincoln worked as a lawyer along with serving 4 terms in the Illinois House of Representatives, where he gained a reputation as a moderate voice for an increasingly divided American people. In 1846, Lincoln is elected as a U.S. Congressman from Illinois, where he served one term.

In the 1850s, Lincoln became a vocal opponent of slavery but favored moderate solutions to issues beginning to threaten the unification of the United States. While moving up and building the Republican Party, he became the premier voice on slavery and helped unite the North against it.

In 1861, Lincoln became the 16th President of the United States. He presided over the only separation America has ever had, and lead the Union side of the Civil War with moral courage. With the Gettysburg Address, he challenged Americans to decide what kind of nation we wanted to be.

In 1865, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theater. Though Lincoln did not live longer than 56 years, his influence on the moral component of our nation has lasted since his last days, and always will influence us all.

4) Franklin D. Roosevelt

FDR was born into the affluent Roosevelt family on January 30th, 1882 in Hyde Park, New York. A born politician, Roosevelt was elected to the New York State Senate in 1910. In 1913, President Wilson appointed FDR to the position of Assistant Secretary Of the Navy, where he helped construct what the modern Navy is.

In 1921, FDR was stricken with the horrid disease of polio. Unable to do it himself, his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, built his image while he was suffering.

In 1929, Roosevelt became the Governor of New York in a year of Democratic losses nationwide. Leading effectively, he becomes the leading Democratic candidate for President in 1932.

In 1932, FDR was overwhelmingly elected President against Herbert Hoover. In his First 100 Days, Roosevelt returned optimism to a nation suffering under the Great Depression and passed his New Deal, legislation that created the modern economy.

In 1941, Roosevelt realized the threat fascism sent to all of the Free World and lead America into the Second World War after Pearl Harbor. In 1945, Roosevelt both lead the greatest victory liberty has ever had and died in Warm Springs, Georgia.

Eleanor Roosevelt helped spark the women’s independence movement and was the first person in power to support the Civil Rights Movement. Roosevelt’s influence has lasted all the way to today and will always continue.

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3) George Washington

George Washington was born to Augustine and Mary Washington in 1732 in Virginia. Washington quickly showed his great potential at an early age, and in 1753 he became a Major in the Virginia Militia.

In 1754, Washington helped spark the French and Indian War when he leads the attack on Jumonville Glen. At Fort Necessity, the French captured Washington but allowed him to return to Virginia with his troops. In 1755, Washington became General Braddock’s senior aide and was at his side when Braddock died. Washington then was put in charge of the Virginia Frontier during the War, and helped secure British victory.

Starting with the 1765 Stamp Act, Washington became more and more disillusioned with British leadership. When the Townshend Acts were passed, he lead the boycott in Virginia against British goods until the Acts were repealed.

In 1774, Washington lead the Fairfax Resolves, which called for a Continental Congress. In 1775, after the attacks at Lexington and Concord, Washington became the Commander-In-Chief of the Continental Army thanks to his charisma, support for the colonies, and his military experience. Throughout the war effort, Washington did the unthinkable: he led a group of ragtag colonists to bring the British Empire to its knees with the surrender at Yorktown in 1781.

After the War, Washington lead the effort to ratify the Constitution of the United States. He called for moderate solutions and helped form the greatest government the world has ever seen.

An American Cincinnatus, Washington reluctantly became President in 1789. Achieving many things as President, his greatest accomplishment was proving that a nation could be lead by good men elected by the American people.

Washington died in 1799 at the age of 67.

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2) John F. Kennedy

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born on May 29th, 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts, a city near Boston. The son of wealthy businessman Joe Kennedy and wife Rose Kennedy, Jack’s childhood was marred by sickness and physical pain, but beat the odds and worked hard to both build his body and mind.

Inspired by the cause to save democracy and freedom, Kennedy joined the Navy in 1941. In 1943, as Commander of the Patrol Torpedo boat PT-109, the ship was sunk by Japanese forces. Kennedy heroically saved his crew by getting them to an island until evac, saving their lives. He continued his service until late 1944.

In 1946, Kennedy entered the world of politics when he was elected as US Representative from Massachusetts, which he served as for 3 terms, or 6 years. In 1952, Kennedy was elected as US Senator from Massachusetts, and in the same year he married Jackie Bouvier.

In 1960, when the country was looking for a young, visionary leader, Kennedy seized the moment and was elected President of the United States. With his inaugural address, he challenged the people to “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” and he asserted the proposition that America would lead the fight against the “common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war.”

Kennedy sparked the fire of the greatest change our nation has ever seen by showing real leadership and action on anti-communism (Ich Bin Ein Berliner), civil rights, poverty, women’s rights, and more. He utilized moderate solutions to the problems America faced, and filled a historically skeptical American people with optimism and hope.

In 1963, Kennedy’s administration was cut short with his assassination, but his legacy will live on forever.

And now for number 1. This choice will be found controversial, but allow me to explain it.

1) Barack Obama

Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 4th, 1961, where he was raised by his mother, Ann Dunham, and his maternal grandparents. In 1965, Dunham remarried an Indonesian immigrant, Lolo Soetoro, and in 1967 Obama and Dunham moved with him to Indonesia. Obama returned to Honolulu in 1971, where he graduated from Punahou School in 1979.

After high school, Obama studied at Occidental College in Los Angeles, where he became a strong and vocal opponent of apartheid in South Africa. In 1981, Obama transferred to Columbia University and graduated with a B.A. in 1983. 2 years after graduation, Obama moved to Chicago and worked as a community organizer, learning first-hand of the deep poverty our own fellow Americans suffer in.

Entering Harvard Law School in 1988, Obama garnered national attention for his election as the first black President of the Harvard Law Review in 1991. It was after this that he fulfilled his book contract with his American classic-level Dreams From My Father. From 1992 to 1997, Obama worked as a lawyer in Chicago and led massive voting drives for President Clinton.

In 1996, Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate, where he served as a supporter for bipartisan reform of health-care and ethics laws. In 2004, Barack Obama was elected as a US Senator from Illinois, where he focused his efforts on international relations.

After the beginning of the collapse of the economy, Barack Obama announced his candidacy for President in 2007. After overcoming the odds, Obama rose above as the hope and change candidate and was elected President in 2008.

Starting immediately after his inauguration, Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which helped put America back on track after the sharpest economic drop since the Great Depression. In many ways, Obama prevented another Depression (or even worse) with his moderate actions that rebuilt the economy community by community.

In March 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the greatest reform the healthcare system has ever seen. These reforms, moderate solutions to problems that plagued the nation for over a century, have helped over 23 million Americans have been able to get quality, uncorrupt health insurance.

President Obama has also taken action on energy, gun control, foreign relations, and more. His greatest legacy, however, is the fact that he was able to put into action moderate solutions to rebuild America at the community level, and not with massive but effective government spending  which has set the opportunity for anti-poverty reform to happen in the next decades. If it truly takes 50 years to judge a President, in decades Obama will be considered the greatest to ever hold the office.

My Choices For The Most Influential People Of 2014

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We’ve seen a lot this year. Some amazing accomplishments, but also some horrific tragedies. The fact is, the actions of people with a lot of power influence our daily lives.

To end 2014, I have compiled a list of 15 people who I believe are to be the most influential of the year. Ranging from world leaders to artists, I have taken everyone into consideration and this list is uniquely mine.

The List:

15) Xi Jinping

The premier of China, Jinping took office last year. He has taken moderate steps to reduce corruption and to lessen the grip the government has on the people, though we must wait to see how much of this continues. Will the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong influence any of his decisions?

14) Prime Minister David Cameron

Cameron, Prime Minister of Great Britain, has faced opposition from both the Labour Party and his own Conservative Party. However, Cameron has stood firm for Britain and her interests in the Middle East, and is a key player in the ongoing Russian conflict.

13) Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi

After overthrowing Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi in July of 2013, General Al-Sisi has been an uncertain rock that Egypt has stood on. Elected as President in June of 2014, we must wait to see if Al-Sisi is a democrat or another dictator for a weary Egypt.

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12) Michael Brown

Michael Brown’s death in 2014 at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson reopened the debate on race, poverty, the use of force by police, and the justice system. It also revealed that, sadly, we are very much the same country we were 50 years ago when it comes to race, except just less blatantly.

11) Lebron James

Lebron James made by far the biggest sports news (yes, bigger than Ray Rice) by announcing he was returning to the Cavaliers. There, he has helped the team accumulate a 18-13 record, and has proven that, even at the age of 30, he is still the greatest basketball player of the 21st Century.

10) Jennifer Lawrence

Starring in the 2014 films “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” and the critically-acclaimed “X-Men: Days of Future Past” Jennifer Lawrence is on a mission to prove that acting is not a lost art along with empowering women. Her influence is not likely to go anywhere but up.

9) Angelina Jolie

An influential mainstay, along with being one of the greatest actresses in Hollywood history, Angelina Jolie has not gone anywhere in 2014. Starring in “Maleficent” and continuing her work with refugees through the UNHCR has easily earned Jolie a spot on this list.

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8) Jimmy Fallon

The greatest comedian to come out of Hollywood since Johnny Carson, Jimmy Fallon now hosts that legend’s “Tonight Show”. Fallon has proven he is a comedic legend himself many times over, and is a breath of real comedy in the (luckily ending) Age of Adam Sandler. I believe that 2014 may be the start of the new Comedic Age Of Jimmy Fallon. Thank God for that.

7) Pope Francis

The most influential leader the Catholic Church has had in decades, Pope Francis proves time and time again that his commitment to make the Church a place of greater compassion and tolerance should inspire us all.

6) Janet Yellen

After taking over as Chair of the Federal Reserve, Yellen became the first woman to hold that position. Yellen’s influence will truly be felt in 2015 as the economy begins to return to more normality after the Great Recession.

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5) Malala Yousafzai

Recipient (along with Kailash Satyarthi) of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize (its youngest recipient), Malala Yousafzai has proven that her work for children and women around the world is only just beginning. I consider her to be one of the bravest and courageous people currently living on this Earth. Her influence will only increase.

4) Angela Merkel

From dealing with the affairs of the European Union to those internally in Germany, Angela Merkel has been waist-deep in every international conflict of 2014. She will be one to watch when the Second Cold War picks up next year and beyond.

3) Hillary Clinton

From the publication of Hard Choices to a campaign being run for her even without her officially running yet, Hillary Clinton has proven truly how influential she is to the world. Voted as the most admired woman of the year for the 19th time in a row, Clinton will be gearing up for the beginnings of a presidential campaign next year.

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2) Beyoncé Knowles

2014 has cemented Beyoncé as the greatest artist ever, surpassing Michael Jackson. From the most successful (5 million+ copies sold), well-crafted, and most-original album since Thriller being released at the very end of 2013 to the On The Run Tour to the legendary VMA performance, Beyoncé has proven herself to be way above any other artist. Worth more than any other black artist at almost $500 million, the most Grammy-nominated artist in history, and her stand as a humanist (real equality for men and women) has made her the greatest artist in history. And she’s only 33.

Now, 1 is a tie between:

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1) Barack Obama

Unhindered by any future election or by what other people think, Obama kicked 2014 into high gear by accomplishing all possible in his power on immigration, civil rights, and the economy. With job numbers almost at 11 million, Obama has proven to be the most courageous leader we have had since Kennedy. He has stood for all free people when it comes to Russian aggression, and defends American interests by leading the fight against ISIS. I am excited to see what he accomplishes in 2015.

And:

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1) Vladimir Putin

I have covered the Russian invasion of Ukraine on this blog, writing a total of 17 articles on it. Vladimir Putin, the ex-KGB agent, has embarked on a campaign to “restore Russian greatness”. From the loss of 298 innocents in the downing of MH17 to the systematic expulsion or elimination of any opposition to his administration, Putin has succeeded in starting a Second Cold War. Listen to me when I say that Crimea is only the beginning.

All of these choices are my own.

Ukrainian Crisis: US Official Confirms Russia Supplied Missile Launchers To Separatists

Debris is pictured at the site of Thursday's Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash, near the village of Grabovo in the Donetsk region July 18, 2014.REUTERS-Stringer

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The SA-11, or Buk, missile launchers used to shoot down Flight MH-17 as it flew over Ukraine were supplied by Russia, the United States confirms Saturday.

“We do believe they were trying to move back into Russia at least three Buk [missile launch] systems,” the official said. US intel was “starting to get indications…a little more than a week ago” that the launchers had been moved into Ukraine by Russia, the official said.

The official gave this statement on the basis of anonymity, and it comes after President Barack Obama said that separatists only had the ability to shoot down the plane with outside training or help. The United States is operating on this intelligence, using the belief of Russian involvement to build a response.

This statement is backed up by photos released by Ukrainian intelligence that show 2 Buk missile systems moving into Russia from Ukraine. One has all 4 of its missiles, but the other is lacking one. Officials around the world are pointing to this as the smoking gun, implicating direct Russian involvement in the attack. Some are calling this a state-sponsored terror attack, some a direct act of war by Russia on their nations, and others even calling for Russian President Vladimir Putin to be tried as a war criminal.

 

The official list of the casualties has also been released, and is as follows:

Netherlands: 1921

Malaysia: 45

Australia: 27

Indonesia: 12

United Kingdom: 102

Germany: 4

Belgium: 4

Philippines: 3

Canada: 1

New Zealand: 1

South Africa: 12

United States: 11

Total: 298

 

As most of the casualties in the shooting down of the plane were Dutch, the leader of the Netherlands was outraged. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who said he had told Russian President Vladmir Putin “that the opportunity is fading to quickly show the world that he is serious about wanting to help.” Dutch officials had previously not commented on the crisis.

Reports also say that Russia is in possession of the black boxes on board the plane, and that the separatists are restricting access to the crash site, hindering investigators.

If these reports of direct Russian involvement prove true, this would be the worst state-sponsored terror attack in history. An example of this kind of terror that many know would be the Lockerbie bombings by Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi.

Most frightening is the facts that many are pointing out about how wars have started for much less. World War 1 began due to the assassination of a single man, and that assassination helped create the culture that started WW2.

Ukrainian Crisis: Scene Where Plane Was Shot Down Shows Intl. Diversity In Casualties

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Credit Here.

Main Points Of Article:

1. Items Ranging From Bali Travel Guides To Children’s Coloring Books Found In Crash Site
2. Human Remains Strewn For Miles In Donetsk Region
3. Investigators Met With Hostility From Separatists At Crash Site

The site of the downed MH-17 Boeing 777 airplane spans an area of over 9 miles in the eastern Donetsk region of Ukraine. Journalists on the ground report how horrific the scene is, and what items have been located in the sunflower field the plane came down in.

“It’s a gruesome scene,” journalist Noah Sneider told CNN. “There’s bodies splayed out through the fields. People said the plane kind of exploded in the air, and everything rained down in bits and pieces, the plane itself, the people inside.”

Bodies are being marked with sticks tied with white cotton ribbons. Sources report that the local morgue does not have the capacity to handle all 298 of the bodies. In fact, they report that the scene is even more gruesome due to the bodies already beginning to decompose.

Over 100 of the people on the flight were AIDS researchers, on their way to a conference that now will have a hundred empty seats. The conference the researchers were traveling to, the 20th Annual International AIDS Conference, released condolences. “The International AIDS Society (IAS) today expresses its sincere sadness at receiving news that a number of colleagues and friends en route to attend the 20th International AIDS Conference taking place in Melbourne, Australia, were on board the Malaysian Airlines MH17 flight that has crashed over Ukraine earlier today,” the statement read. “At this incredibly sad and sensitive time the IAS stands with our international family and sends condolences to the loved ones of those who have been lost to this tragedy.”

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Credit Here.

Items that were also on the plane have been found in the crash site. A tour guide to the popular oceanside vacation spot of Bali was found, along with books in Dutch, children’s coloring books, and passports. Ages of the casualties range from infants to elderly citizens from at least 9 nations, including the United States, Australia, the Netherlands, and Malaysia.

International investigators into the crash arrived to hostility from the pro-Russian separatists in the region. President Obama called for the crash site to be left alone by the separatists so that those responsible can be deciphered and brought to justice.

The downing of the plane, if the United States’s working theory that Russia supplied the SA-11, or “Buk,” missiles and how to use them to the separatists, would be one of the worst state-sponsored terror attacks in history. This is already the 6th deadliest plane disaster in history.

Most devastatingly of all, this is the deadliest intentional plane crash in world history.