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.

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Ukrainian Crisis: Death Toll Spikes As Ukraine Is On Verge Of War

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Protestors Tearing Up Cobblestones To Throw. Credit Here.

The crisis in Ukraine so far has been with casualties, but limited in death toll. But as May began, the toll soared as deadly gunfire a fire, and downed helicopters claimed the lives of at least 50 Pro-Russian demonstrators and Ukrainian soldiers.

Odessa, a city in Ukraine near the Black Sea, had been without heavy violence up until Friday. Police reported to the AP that 3 people had been killed and 15 wounded after Pro-Russian demonstrators and Ukrainian soldiers exchanged gunfire in the streets.

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Union Hall On Fire. Credit Here.

A trade union hall was later set on fire, presumed because of Molotov Cocktails, where over 40 people died and 174 were injured. The Ukrainian Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov, said, “We’re ready to hold talks with protesters or their representatives.” Avakov also said yesterday on the government website as troops surrounded Slovyansk. “But terrorists and armed separatists will only get the inevitable payback.”

As the Ukrainian government recaptured checkpoints outside the separatist city of Slovyansk, 3 separatists were killed and 2 were injured. The Ukrainian government is trying to recapture Slovyansk, along with other eastern Ukrainian cities, as part of its “anti-terror” operation.

Finally, the pro-Western government in Kiev said that 2 Ukrainian Army helicopters were brought down by missiles, killing 2 airmen. This is seen as proof of Moscow being behind this entire crisis.

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Russia, after placing about 40000 troops along its eastern border with Ukraine, proclaimed one again its “right” to invade Ukraine to “protect” Russian speakers in the region. The Russian Ambassador to the United Nations said that Ukrainian authorities are using “heavy military force against peaceful protesters in a criminal misadventure,” while Russia is trying to wind down and end the crisis. He said the U.S. and the European Union should “stop toying with the destiny of the Ukrainian people.”

As Ukrainian elections are right around the corner on May 25th, President Obama warned Russia that if violence continues and the vote cannot be held, “we will not have a choice but to move forward,” with new sanctions. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the election “crucial” and said that she would support economic sanctions if the election is impeded by Russian-induced violence.

Ukrainian Crisis: Escalation In Eastern Ukraine

 

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Pro-Russian Protester Monday. Credit Here.

On the night of April 6th, Pro-Russian Groups seized military arms and declared one province of Ukraine a separatist republic. These are the largest moves made since March in the ongoing crisis between Kiev, Moscow, and the West.

The overnight takeover of 3 cities in eastern Ukraine looks eerily like how the events in Crimea played out, and that is Kiev’s position as well. The Prime Minister of Ukraine, Arseny Yatseniuk, said Monday, ” An anti-Ukrainian plan is being put into operation … under which foreign troops will cross the border and seize the territory of the country…We will not allow this.”

These separatists, after taking the cities of Kharkiv, Lugansk, and Donetsk, demand that referendums be held, like those in Crimea weeks ago, on whether or not to join Russia. If these lands join Russia, which could happen by the beginning of May, would be a loss of land equal to the size of South Carolina, and would be another step closer for Putin to take Kiev.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, that the US is watching the events in Ukraine with great caution, and any further steps to destabilize the region would “incur further costs for Russia.”

Kerry “called on Russia to publicly disavowed the activities of separatists, saboteurs and provocateurs” in Ukraine, the Department of State said. He and Lavrov will be discussing peace talks between Ukraine, Russia, the US, and the EU coming in 10 days.

It is presumed that Russia will, if it decides to annex these oblasts, take them like they did Crimea. Already we have seen the similar first step: “Pro-Russian Protesters” taking government buildings. The 40K+ Russian troops who are already on the border between Russia and Ukraine have been outfitted with quick-movement arms, which means they could seize these oblasts with minimal cost to life.

EasternEuropeMap updated

Black Dots: Where Anti-Missile Systems Should Be Placed By NATO. Created by Nassem Al-Mehairi.

We have an option that we can take right now. I want more, stronger sanctions too, but I am going to focus on another course of action we can take. These oblasts, unfortunately, will probably be annexed into Russia. We can, however, reinstate missile defense systems in Poland and put them in Romania. Both of these nations are NATO members, and understand the dangers of letting Putin take Ukraine.These anti-missile systems would draw a line where Putin must stop, where he cannot go without further, much harsher consequences. We then must use sanctions and diplomacy to try to save Ukraine before it is too late.

A Well-Thoughtout Book On President Obama, His Rise, and His Destiny

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Whom God Has Blessed, Let No Man Curse by Jermel Shim is a rare book on Obama. Many have written about him, the 2008 and 2012 elections, his administration, etc., but Shim’s has the courage to talk about his destiny to not only lead America but change it, and the people who try and fail to bring him down.

Barack Obama’s rise to the Presidency is one that would never have been possible in any other nation on Earth. He is the most honest, hard-working, hope filled leader we have ever had, and Whom God Has Blessed highlights upon this. The book begins by discussing his path to his destiny, then how his opponents try to push him over the racial cliff, then how the rest of his second term will go, and finally the lessons we can learn from Obama. I agree with Whom God Has Blessed about how Obama has endured the most criticism of any President, not based on policy but on race.

I found this book based on faith, both Christianity and Buddhism, and that Obama is a blessed man in these regards. For more strictly informational readers, this book’s ideological standpoints are solid, with Shim’s vast knowledge of politics obvious. The work and research, the thinking, that Mr. Shim put into Whom God Has Blessed shines through in each line. His arguments, moderately based, makes him a perfect spokesperson for the cause of racial equality in America.

Barack Obama offers lessons on life and leadership that no political figure has since Lincoln. Shim’s argument is that we need to follow these lessons to follow our own destinies, and to end the racial, and economic, divide that plagues America. It is not only enough that minorities can eat at a restaurant, they need to be able to pay for the food. It is not even definite that the poor are able to vote, due to Voter-ID having the possibility of taking the right away from 23 million Americans.

Whom God Has Blessed, Let No Man Curse is an informative, well researched book on Barack Obama’s rise and destiny to the Presidency, and the lessons he offers to all of us. Shim’s courageous book makes him a new voice in the fight for racial and economic equality in our generation, and I look forward to future books coming from him.

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Jermel Shim~ Author

Jermel Shim is a retired mechanical engineer who has launched a new career as an author. Writing is not a new experience for Jermel. In his professional engineering career, he authored many technical documents. In his new career as an author, he has faced the challenge of switching from a technical writer to a nonfiction writer.

Born in Jamaica, Jermel was educated at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, where he graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. Following his graduation, he moved to the US, where he began an engineering career spanning 29 years with two major engineering companies – Gilbert Commonwealth in Reading, Pennsylvania and Dominion Resources, Inc., in Richmond, Virginia. He has voted in all Presidential elections since becoming a citizen in 1988.

Ukrainian Crisis: Crimea Votes To Join Russia

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Russian Flags Wave Behind A Statue Of Lenin. Credit To CNN

Today, March 16th, Crimeans took to the polls to vote on their future. In a region of 2 million people, the referendum had only 2 options, either independence or joining Russia. The status quo of staying part of Ukraine was not an option. 93% of the vote went to seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia.

Voters had to be 18 or older, and present some form of ID. Journalists report, however, that some went in with solely a passport, and some voters cast multiple votes.

The Russians are very happy with this outcome, with Crimea back under Moscow’s control. They maintain that this was a legal referendum, and that they were saving ethnic Russians in Crimea from “fascists”. President Putin calls the ousting of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych unconstitutional.

The United States and Europe effectively unanimously agree that this is illegal. The West maintains that this vote violates Ukrainian and International law. The US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power said territorial referendums legally have to be held “across the entirety of Ukraine and not just in a sub-region like this.”

Jose Manuel Barroso (@BarrosoEU), the President of the EU Commission, tweeted “#Crimea referendum illegal and illegitimate. EU will not recognize its outcome.”

The G7 said that if Moscow does not stop trying to change Crimea’s status, “further action” would occur.

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Voting Booth In Crimea. Credit To CNN

The Western condemnation of this referendum is obvious, and widespread. Both Britain and the United States said that additional sanctions will be put in place if this vote goes through. British Foreign Minister William Hague stated that “If there is no progress on these things in the next few days then we will move to the next stage of Europe’s response to this crisis, which will involve travel bans and asset freezes on individuals in Russia.” Now that the vote has gone through, both Washington and London must work together to isolate Russia.

On Sunday’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, on CNN, the Polish Foreign Minister stood strong for the EU, saying that, “Russia is leaving us no choice. And the European Council has decided, if there is no movement on Russia’s part to correct the position, then I’m afraid we’ll have no – no choice on Monday.”

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Ballot Box In Crimea. Credit Here.

I believe that Crimea is the only chance Russia has to exert international influence. In the planned Eurasian Union, made up of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, Crimea would be valuable as it would be the only warm-water port. Crimea allows for influence in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and Asia. This Eurasian Union, it is the planned joining of Russia and other former Soviet satellites.

I have come to the conclusion that Russia has taken this military action in Ukraine because Ukraine will not be part of the Eurasian Union. As Vladimir Putin said, regarding the Eurasian Union, that it would build upon the “best values of the Soviet Union.” This is the reforming of the Soviet Union. Russia has said that it has taken over Crimea because Ukraine is still Russian, so, if Ukraine shows any opposition to Putin…you see what happens. If Putin cannot get Ukraine to join willingly, he will take it forcefully, starting with the most valuable land: Crimea.

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Then-Sec. Hillary Clinton With Putin in 2010. Credit Here

This is why Hillary Clinton compared this action to Hitler invading Sudetenland. “The claims by Putin that they had to go into Crimea, because they had to protect Russian minorities, is reminiscent of claims that were made back in the 1930’s.” and, “Germany, under the Nazis claimed they had to protect German minorities in Czechoslovakia … and throughout Europe.” She was supported in her statement by former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. Two of the greatest foreign policy minds alive agree that the takeover of Crimea seems a lot like it is 1938 again.

The Eurasian Union will be the reincarnation of the Soviet Union. Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, spoke about that too. “It’s not going to be called that [USSR]. It’s going to be called customs union, it will be called the Eurasian Union and all of that, but let’s make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.” Crimea is the start, and Sunday, March 16th will be remembered like May 14th, 1955, when the Warsaw Pact was signed. It is up to us if it leads to a Second Cold War.

Ukrainian Crisis: The Bosphorus

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News coverage of the Ukrainian Crisis has dropped dramatically, and many may believe it is over. Well, no, if anything, it has gotten worse.

Russia took the Crimean Peninsula. It is the part of Ukraine that juts out into the Black Sea. Now, the Black Sea enters into something, right?

The Mediterranean Sea. Yes, the Black Sea and The Mediterranean are connected by a strait of water called the Bosphorus. The Mediterranean is the sea that allows for access to Europe, The Americas, Africa, and Asia.

A little history: The Bosphorus has been fought over for thousands of years. Beginning in the 5th Century BC, Ancient Greece, Persia and Rome all fought for the Bosphorus. In the 1400’s, the Ottomans conquered it from the Byzantines, and it became the most important part of the Ottoman Empire. It is so important because it controls all trade between the Mediterranean and the Black Seas.

The strait matters now because, if Crimea votes on the 16th of March to join Russia, it will give Russia access to the rest of the world. We are trying to curb Russia’s bad behavior by isolating them; we cannot let them have access to the Mediterranean.

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Russia wants to continue to help the corrupt Assad regime in Syria: Can do with Bosphorus.
Influence Egypt? Can do with Bosphorus.
Access to UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Iran through the Strait of Hormuz: Can do with Bosphorus.

Russia wants Crimea because it is a warm water port. It would be Russia’s sole one. If Russia would be able to influence the Middle East, the corruption we see now would get even worse. Russia would be a threat to Europe too, if warships have access to the Mediterranean.

The US needs to work with Turkey to help restrict the Bosphorus. It may sound outlandish, but it is what needs to happen if we are going to contain Russia. It would be the perfect opportunity to show our strength in this crisis, and that we will not cower toward Putin.

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Does this sound familiar? The US putting missiles in Turkey to isolate the Soviet Union in the 60s? It will not be with missiles, but we would be working with Turkey to contain Russia. Not militarily, but keeping a step ahead.

This quote still is true, even today:

“Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners, and necessity has made us allies. Those whom God has so joined together, let no man put asunder.” -President John F. Kennedy

Note: In a previous article on the Ukrainian Crisis, I talked about how NATO needs to defend the Polish-Russian Border. On March 10th, NATO jets began doing that, and still are. Thank you to the people who lead that.

Ukraine and The Russians: How To Respond

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I have been covering the Ukrainian Crisis since it began, and this is the 5th post I have done about it. I have been on top of this because I believe that it is a pivotal event in history, and I hope I will have some impact on what occurs.

On Sunday, March 1st, the Russian Parliament unanimously voted to approve the use of military action in Ukraine. Before this, troops without insignias took over airports, government buildings, and other infrastructure on the Crimean Peninsula.

By late Sunday, Russian forces had “complete operational control of the Crimean Peninsula,” according to a top US official. The official also said that the United States estimates Russia currently has around 6000 ground forces on Crimea.

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The interim Prime Minister of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, spoke out, saying that “This is a red alert. This is not a threat. This is actually a declaration of war to my country.”

The Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations said that his nation is going to require more than diplomatic help.

“We are to demonstrate that we have our own capacity to protect ourselves … and we are preparing to defend ourselves,” Yuriy Sergeyev said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “And nationally, if aggravation is going in that way, when the Russian troops … are enlarging their quantity with every coming hour … we will ask for military support and other kinds of support.”

Russia is violating international law. They are reneging on the 1994 Treaty signed by Russia, The United States, and the United Kingdom that protected Ukraine’s sovereignty. They are violating the borders of another nation, and are trying to conquer it.

The crisis has become precedence for the governments in the West. President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone for 90 minutes this weekend, and Obama made clear that continued Russian violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty would negatively impact Russia’s standing in the international community. The Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron, is going to speak to Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. Both of those nations neighbor Ukraine.

I believe that the first step we need to take is to expel Russia from the G8 and G20. Starting at a one-year suspension, if Russia continues the invasion, it would be expanded.

The next step would be to impose international sanctions on Russia. The most important of these would come from the EU, because 75% of Foreign Direct Investment stocks in Russia come from the EU.

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Then, NATO needs to reinstate missile defense systems in Poland, increase NATO troops in areas neighboring Russia, and draw a line between Poland and Ukraine. These actions must be taken to show that we mean what we say. Actions such as these would show Putin that our red lines actually do exist and that we will isolate Russia. A strong NATO showing along the border would show that any further aggression would be met with deep consequences.

After this, I do not know. Do we want to enter another war, or does containment work better? Do we prefer a Second Cold War or an actual war over Ukraine? These are our only options if Russia annexes Crimea.

The future depends on the decisions we make at this time. If we make the right ones, democracy and freedom will survive.

Credit For Information And Photos Goes Here, Here, , and Here.