April 12, 2022 Inflation. Not a word we like to hear, that’s for sure, and unfortunately, we are getting nailed with it right now. And of course, the political blame game has ensued with finger pointing, mudslinging, and some trying to use it to their advantage in upcoming elections. But let’s get real about why we are being slammed with rising prices. Multiple factors are coming into play that are driving the inflation we are seeing these days. Early in the pandemic, demand for many goods and services (such as gasoline, dining out, buying vehicles, and more) dramatically decreased. Prices often decreased as well. This was seen with oil prices. Then, economies started to pick back up, and demand for many goods and services also increased correspondingly. But there have been serious supply chain problems creating a situation where supply has frequently not kept up with demand. This has created bottlenecks and raised prices of numerous goods and services. When this type of thing happens to enough goods and services, inflation results. As to why supply has often been lagging behind demand, there are multiple reasons, but the Pandemic has been a major one. The COVID Pandemic has been fluid and worldwide. Some areas get hit with surges more severely than others and often at varying times. Also consider how different places don’t necessarily respond the same way. Think about all that. This means that while one area has high demand for a product, another area that may be key in producing or transporting it could be facing serious limitations because of a surge. Consider it this way: when a bad surge is affecting an area, a significant number of factory workers may be out sick. Output from that factory thus decreases. At the same time, a significant number of truck drivers and port workers may be out with COVID, which in turn makes transportation of products being produced more difficult. And when the demand for the factory’s product is still high, it gets more expensive for those buying it. Another factor involved in worsening inflation is that when the prices of certain key items or services (such as oil) go up, they can have ripple effects, driving up the prices of many other goods and services. Oil is a good example of this. When oil prices go up, transportation costs of goods go up which make those goods more expensive (be it food in grocery stores or smartphones in electronics stores). Another example is the shortage of semiconductors and periodic disruption of other parts needed to build automobiles. This has led to a shortage in the number of vehicles being produced at a time when demand for new vehicles increased. The result: it’s more expensive to buy a new car. In the United States, there has also been a shortage of truck drivers (rising fuel costs and other factors have likely lessened the number of people wanting to pursue this career). Yet, products still need to be shipped, so here’s another factor in the supply chain problem going on. Greed also comes into play, with the oil industry being an example of that. Oil producers (including US companies and OPEC) have resisted the idea of temporarily increasing oil production to lower prices, in large part because they don’t want to lower their profits (they’ve had high profits lately). So when you consider the number of ways the supply of goods and services are being disrupted these days, it’s clear that this is a major driving force in the inflation that we are seeing around the world. That’s right: inflation is striking around the world. Not just in the United States. And Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine is also playing a role since Russia is an oil producer (European countries have relied heavily on Russian natural gas). It’s also clear that this inflation situation would have struck no matter who was in the White House and Congress. Government spending (which includes COVID stimulus bills during the Trump years) may be contributing to some degree as well, though I think the supply chain problems that have been exacerbated by the Pandemic (and now the war in Ukraine) are the primary factors. In terms of combating the rise in inflation that we are seeing, there is no single way to stop it. Fixing the supply chain problem would be a big one, but seeing how the supply chain situation is so complex and global in nature (and that COVID is still around), there is no simple fix. President Biden is trying to battle rising gas prices by attempting to get oil producers (like US oil companies, Saudi Arabia, and others) to increase oil production, but he can’t order them to do so. Releases from the US Oil Reserves have also been authorized as has increasing the percentage of Ethanol allowed in gasoline). Efforts are being made to try to alleviate the bottlenecks US ports are grappling with (like getting the port of Log Angeles to operate 24/7), and the Federal Reserve is likely to increase interest rates several times this year as it fights inflation. I also think we need to speed up the process of shifting away from our reliance on fossil fuels and increase the use of renewable, clean energy because this would help combat Human Caused Climate Change as well as make us less susceptible economically to the whims of the oil market. But the brutal truth is that there are limitations on what the White House and Congress can do to slow down the inflation we are experiencing, especially in the short term. It will almost certainly take time for the situation to improve.
April 10, 2022 The LGBTQ Community still faces ignorance, intolerance, and prejudice despite the fact that it’s the 21st century. And what’s more troubling is how social conservatives in states around the country are trying to pass legislation that is deeply harmful to many Queer people, especially Queer youth. And that makes it so much worse. There are numerous “Don’t Say Gay” and anti-Transgender type bills and laws being pushed by conservative Republicans in state legislatures around the country such as in Florida, Tennessee, Kansas, Alabama, Ohio, and Indiana. What makes these bills so destructive and abhorrent is how they target an already suffering community, that being LGBTQ youth. To prove my point, here are some statistics compiled by The Trevor Project, a national organization which provides support for LGBTQ young people in crisis who may be considering suicide. In 2021, they conducted a nationwide survey of close to 35,000 LGBTQ young people (aged 13 to 24), and here are some key numbers that they found. 42% of LGBTQ youth had seriously considered suicide in the past year, and for Transgender/Nonbinary youth, that number was 52%. 72% of LGBTQ young people reported symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder in the previous two weeks, and only 1 in 3 indicated that they lived in an LGBTQ affirming home. In the past year, 48% said that they wanted professional counseling but had not received it, and LGBTQ youth who had been subjected to conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide when compared to those who had not been subjected to the barbaric practice. Think about those numbers for a minute. I mean really think about them. They are tragic and scary. LGBTQ young people need understanding, tolerance, love, and support, but these laws provide anything but that. Instead, “Don’t Say Gay” and numerous anti-Transgender legislation being pushed around the country promote intolerance, misinformation, and downright prejudice. They make Queer kids think that there’s something wrong with them which in turn fills them with confusion and guilt. These bills also increase the likelihood that LGBTQ young people will be bullied and mistreated by other students, and they limit the ability of school staff from being able to reach out and help LGBTQ students when they are in need. And since many Queer minors live in homes that are not LGBTQ affirming, it is not uncommon for them to want to turn to school counselors or teachers for help. But with these bills, Queer students who are in need will be less likely to do this for fear of backlash and intolerance, plus many teachers and counselors will be afraid of getting into trouble if they try to help. Also remember how 52% Transgender/Nonbinary youth considered suicide in the 2021 survey. Anti-Transgender laws that limit or even prevent the ability of doctors to provide health care (such as temporary puberty blockers that are reversible and proven to help Transgender youth) will increase that suicide rate. Anti-LGBTQ legislation such as these result in LGBTQ young people having to endure greater suffering than they already do which in turn increases their suicide rate. It’s time for everyone to educate themselves and open their minds. Let go of intolerance and prejudice. Try to imagine what it’s like for other people and strive to provide support and acceptance to others, especially when they are in need. So please join me in speaking out against these destructive, intolerant bills and laws so that we can work towards making this a better, more accepting society for all.
Well, Florida sickeningly did it. The “don’t say gay” bill has become law. This horrible legislation is based on ignorance, intolerance, and prejudice. What is worse is that it will increase the suffering of innocent LGBTQ youth and will lead to higher suicide rates among this already vulnerable population. Don’t believe me? Well, keep reading, and I’ll explain. The Trevor Project is a national organization which provides support for LGBTQ young people in crisis who may be considering suicide. In 2021, they conducted a nationwide survey of close to 35,000 LGBTQ young people (aged 13 to 24), and here are some key numbers that they found. 42% of LGBTQ youth had seriously considered suicide in the past year, and for transgender/nonbinary youth, that number was 52%. 72% of LGBTQ young people reported symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder in the previous two weeks, and only one in three indicated that they lived in an LGBTQ affirming home. In the past year, 48% said that they wanted professional counseling but had not received it, and LGBTQ youth who had been subjected to conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide when compared to those who had not been subjected to the barbaric practice. Think about those numbers. I mean really think about them. And here’s another one to consider: of minors who have experienced homelessness, around 40% identify as LGBTQ. The reason they’re homeless is often due to their LGBTQ status (like being kicked out because of it or running away due to their home environment being vicious and toxic). These statistics are scary and prove how far society still needs to go in terms of LGBTQ acceptance, understanding, and rights. Now, let’s go back to this new law. It’s dangerous because it places serious limitations on schools’ abilities to discuss and deal with LGBTQ issues. The law says “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” The latter part of this in particular is quite vague and could easily be abused so that older students will likely be affected as well. The result will be many teachers being afraid to discuss LGBTQ history and issues (to any age) which in turn will make LGBTQ students feel even more isolated, marginalized, and confused. With faculty often being hesitant to discuss LGBTQ issues, another disturbing outcome of this law will undoubtedly be many students being less likely to come to teachers and counselors about LGBTQ related situations they are having to deal with in their personal lives. Why is this important you may wonder? Well, go back to the numbers above, in particular the part where only one in three youth say they live in an LGBTQ affirming home. The fact is: a significant number of minors have parents who are very prejudiced against the LGBTQ Community, and because of this, many students have been more likely to come out to a school counselor or teacher before they were ready to tell their prejudiced parents. With the “don’t say gay” law, this important outlet for many of these students will essentially be taken away. The cold hard reality is that this law will worsen situations for many LGBTQ youth (especially their mental health) due to their becoming more isolated, marginalized, closeted, confused, and frightened as a result of the conditions created by the law. Instead of being able to seek out and receive support when they need it, too many are going to end up suffering in silence, afraid of anyone discovering their secret. This in turn will worsen their quality of life and thus lead to increased suicide rates. So I hope you will join me in spreading the word in demanding this horrible law be struck down. I also plead with you to speak out against other similar bills and laws in other states because the well-being of innocent LGBTQ youth (for some, even their lives) are at stake.
Ever wonder how the celebration of Washington DC’s cherry blossoms came into being? It’s a fascinating story whose origins go back centuries. Yes, I said centuries. To discover what happened,we have to go back in time. Japan has been celebrating the blooming of cherry tree flowers (known as sakura) for many, many years. Probably over a thousand. The tradition of viewing blooming flowers (also known as hanami) was likely more about plum blossoms early on but then morphed into cherry flowers, particularly during the Heian Period (794-1185). Through the years, references to flowering cherry trees became quite common in Japanese literature and art, for their appearance is seen by many as a time of celebration, renewal, and a new start. Now we must travel to the 1800s. Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore was born in 1856 in Madison, Wisconsin and attended Oberlin College (Ohio) in 1873-1874. She moved to Washington DC and got involved in writing, travel, and photography. She became a member of the National Geographic Society where she served in a number of positions through the years and traveled quite extensively. She wrote articles and books about her travels but also delved into other subjects such as politics and manners. In 1885, after returning from a trip to Japan (where she would spend a significant amount of time through the years), she proposed to the U.S. Army Superintendent of the Office of Public Buildings and Grounds that Japanese cherry trees be brought over and planted along sections of the Potomac waterfront. To her disappointment, there was little to no interest. So, over the following 24 years, she approached every new Superintendent with her idea. In 1906, Dr David Fairchild, an official with the Department of Agriculture, obtained some Japanese cherry trees that he planted on his own property as an experiment to see if they would thrive in DC’s climate. It was a success, after which he began advocating them as a good option to plant along DC avenues. In 1908, he gave children saplings to be planted at every DC school in honor of Arbor Day. At a speech on that day, he promoted the idea of transforming the Speedway (which no longer exists) into a “field of cherries.” This probably gave Eliza Scidmore, who was in attendance, hope and encouragement in her quest of importing cherry trees to Washington. In 1909, Eliza Scidmore worked to raise money for her idea and wrote a letter to First Lady Helen Herron Taft regarding her proposal. The First Lady had spent time in Japan and liked the idea. Dr. Jokichi Takamine, a chemist who was in Washington around this time with Mr Midzuno (the Japanese Consul to New York), heard about what was going on and asked Mrs Taft if she would accept a donation of 2000 cherry trees from Japan. Mr Midzuno thought this was an excellent idea and suggested it be done in the name of Tokyo. He talked to city’s mayor who in turn agreed. It was set. First Lady Helen Herron Taft would accept 2000 Japanese cherry trees as a gift from the City of Tokyo. On January 6, 1910, the cherry trees arrived in Washington DC to be planted along the Potomac. But then disaster struck. You didn’t think it would be easy did you lol? It was discovered that the trees were infested with insects and nematodes and as a result would have to be burned. Yes burned, which they were. Although according to one article, a dozen or so were preserved for study. The piece further says that they were “planted out in the experimental plot of the bureau, and there will be an expert entomologist with a dark lantern, and a butterfly net, cyanide bottle and other lethal weapons placed on guard over the trees, to see what sort of bugs develop.” After this, Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki and others decided to try this again. So after more work, on March 26, 1912, 3020 Japanese cherry trees arrived in Washington DC. The next day, Helen Herron Taft and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador, planted the first two trees along the Tidal Basin. And yes, you guessed it: the rest is history!
March 23, 2022 Oh no, another piece about COVID lol! Well, sorry, but yes it is. I know everyone wants this damn pandemic to end. I get that. I feel it. But the thing is, COVID is not going to disappear as much as we wish it would. The hard, cold reality is that we have to learn to live with it. But in living with it, that does not mean totally ignoring it as if it wasn’t there. On the other hand, we shouldn’t live in desperate fear of it either. Instead, we need to be vigilant and flexible in terms of living our lives in a world with COVID in it. Now, you may be wondering what I mean by that. Well, let me explain. The COVID virus mutates which is why we keep seeing new variants sprout up. This is what viruses do which allows them to survive. Immunity (or immune resistance would be a more accurate term I think) can come from vaccines, previous infection, or both. We also know that with time, immune resistance to COVID decreases, which is why keeping up to date with boosters is so important. Another issue that comes into play is that as more mutations occur, the risk of new variants becoming more resistant to people’s immunity increases because of the new mutated variants potentially being so different from earlier versions that people’s immune systems don’t respond nearly as well (and in a worst case scenario, not at all). So, when you consider all this and the fact that some people still haven’t gotten vaccinated and how many more have not received boosters, it’s easy to see why COVID cases go up and down. Now and in the future, people need to stay aware about what the status of COVID is in their communities and countries, and they should keep up to date in getting their boosters. In all likelihood, new boosters based on newer variants will become available, and it will be important for people to get those shots when they are able (like getting yearly flu vaccines). Also, people need to be prepared to make adjustments depending on what COVID is doing in terms of case numbers and severity. While we all would like to see COVID case numbers stay low, that may not always be the case. In all likelihood, there will be times when case numbers rise (and sometimes it could be to significant levels). As a result, when those levels are high enough to be of concern, people will need to make some adjustments to help bring those levels back down. This could include things like people who had not been wearing masks in indoor public places starting to do so again. Another example could be needing to make adjustments to indoor gatherings (like shifting them outside, decreasing crowd size, and perhaps asking attendees to take at home rapid COVID tests before coming). I’m not saying people will have to take severe precautions all the time. It will depend on what COVID is doing (whether case numbers and severity are low or high). While we all need to live our lives, we should be smart about it and do so in a responsible way being prepared to make adjustments if necessary. By being vigilant and flexible, we can keep ourselves and other people safer and healthier which in turn will allow everyone to live better lives.
March 14, 2022 We are all seeing the vicious, brutal, unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine on TV. The pain and suffering of the Ukrainian people is heartbreaking and infuriating to watch while their determination to resist and fight back is truly inspiring. There’s no question that Vladimir Putin and numerous members of the Russian military are war criminals as innocent Ukrainian civilians are clearly being targeted. Nations of the world need to support Ukraine with military and humanitarian aid while imposing severe financial sanctions against Russia for as long as it takes to help Ukraine prevail. The issues of a potential NATO no-fly zone over Ukraine or sending fighter planes to the Ukrainian Air Force are being discussed right now. I agree that NATO should not try to implement a no-fly zone because it would almost certainly lead to a much wider war with multiple nuclear powers involved. In order to enforce a no-fly zone, NATO would almost certainly have to shoot down Russian planes and likely also have to engage ground based Russian anti-aircraft systems. That would be a shooting war between NATO and Russia. In other words: WW3. So the risk is too great for a NATO no-fly zone. But I do think we should supply Ukraine with fighter planes that they would use themselves. I would recommend that Ukrainian pilots be the ones to fly the aircraft across the border into Ukraine with the provision that once in Ukraine, the planes stay there no matter what. It would also be preferable for the planes to try to avoid combat until they have landed inside Ukraine, refueled and armed there. At that point, they could take back off to then engage Russian forces. While Russia would not like this, I think it’s highly unlikely they would do anything militarily against NATO because of it. We are already supplying Ukraine with other military equipment such as anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, and considering the crimes against humanity that Russia is inflicting upon the Ukrainian people, I think we should include military aircraft in those supplies. As much of the world as possible needs to stand up against Vladimir Putin and his brutal tyranny. While we need to be smart about it (so as to avoid a wider, more devastating war), the time is now to support Ukraine and stand up for democracy.
March 7, 2022 The rise in petroleum prices that we are seeing these days reinforces the need for the United States and other countries to speed up the shift to renewable, clean energy. Supply chain issues, the COVID Pandemic, and now Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine are all playing roles in the current rise of gas prices (and inflation) which we’re seeing around the world. Humanity started to increasingly rely on the use of fossil fuels in the 19th century with the use of coal to warm homes, power factories, and run railroads and steamships. With the invention of the combustion engine, fossil fuel use really exploded in the 20th century as more and more people relied on automobiles powered by petroleum products. Coal firing plants to supply energy to cities grew in size and number as did manufacturing facilities. The result of all this was a precipitous rise in CO2 levels in the atmosphere. According to NASA, during the last Ice Age, CO2 levels were around 185 ppm (parts per million)and rose to about 280 ppm by 1850. In January of 2022, it was up to 418. This dramatic increase since 1850 is clearly due to human activity (particularly from the use of fossil fuels). We know from exhaustive research that rising atmospheric CO2 levels causes average temperatures to go up as well, which in turn has created the Climate Change Crisis that the planet is experiencing today. In order to combat Human Caused Climate Change, we need to lower atmospheric CO2 levels, and the best way to do that is to decrease the use of fossil fuels while increasing the use of renewable, clean energy sources. Another added benefit will be less reliance on having to import petroleum from other parts of the world because as we are currently seeing how regional and world events can lead to rising petroleum prices that we have to pay due to our reliance on fossil fuels. With everything that is going on (including the likelihood of banning Russian petroleum exports), in the short term, other parts of the world will need to increase oil production in order to prevent gas prices from getting too exorbitantly high. But in the long run, we need to speed up the process of shifting away from fossil fuels and towards the use of renewable, clean energy because it will be better for the planet and also will likely allow the United States and other countries to become less reliant on the necessity to import such significant amounts of their energy needs.
March 6, 2022 The world is finally recognizing how viciously brutal Vladimir Putin is with Russia’s bloody invasion of Ukraine. Things will not be the same, and we all will need to adapt to this new world. Nations around the globe must stand as united as possible against Russia, supplying Ukraine with military and financial aid while also isolating and punishing Russia both diplomatically and financially. The sanctions that have been implemented are important and will hurt the Russian economy significantly. The value of the ruble has already dropped precipitously which is certainly a step in the right direction. The current sanctions are stronger than any Russia has ever faced in modern times, but we need to realize that the international community may also need to ban Russia’s petroleum exports as well. In 2019, Russia’s top two exports were Crude Petroleum at 123 billion dollars and Refined Petroleum at 66.2 billion dollars. Current sanctions haven’t hit this area very hard thus far because of the world’s thirst for petroleum. The United States obtains about 5% of it’s petroleum products from Russia while for European countries, it’s much higher (about 50% for Germany). This is why nations have been hesitant about banning Russian petroleum exports. The world is already battling inflation, and there is legitimate concern about how much that could worsen if Russian petroleum gets prohibited. But we may need to implement such bans in order to really put the financial squeeze on Putin and his government seeing how horrendously brutal the Russian invasion has become and due to the fact that if we don’t stop Putin in Ukraine, there is a very real chance he will continue similar moves in other countries such as Georgia, Moldova, and perhaps even Finland. It’s time for the international community to stand up to Vladimir Putin and keep him in check. In order to accomplish this, we will all likely have to make some sacrifices. For most of the world it will mean higher gas prices and probably worsened inflation for a time. But that is a small price to pay when you consider what the Ukrainian people are suffering through right now and the need to prevent others from having to experience the same fate.
March 5, 2022 We’re all watching Russia’s vicious, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in horror and disgust. The images we’re seeing on the news every day are heart-wrenching and devastating. So many innocent lives being torn apart, destroyed, and lost needlessly and tragically because of one person: Vladimir Putin. I’m not a religious person and rarely refer to someone as evil, but Putin is a truly horrible, evil human being. He has brutally and viciously attacked Ukraine despite the fact that Ukraine has never been any real threat to Russia. Vladimir Putin is a cold-blooded, cruel authoritarian autocrat who despises true democracy. He thinks the dissolution of the former Soviet Union was a terrible event and that Ukraine does not deserve to be independent from Russia. Think about how utterly twisted a philosophy that is, yet this is how Putin seems to think. He has had political opponents imprisoned and murdered and has established authoritarian type control over Russian media. This is a guy who is doing everything he can to have as much power and control as he can get away with. He despises the fact that Ukraine has become a democracy that over the last few years has grown closer to the rest of Europe and more distant from Russia. Frankly, he can’t seem to stand the fact that Ukraine is independent from Russia in any form or fashion. It’s clear that in the long run, he wants to establish as much control over former Soviet republics as he can get away with. And now we are all witnessing the consequences of Putin’s twisted, authoritarian philosophy and quest for more power which has resulted in his viciously brutal attack upon Ukraine. We are seeing news footage every day of innocent Ukrainians’ suffering and senseless deaths. This in turn has led to a number of people clamoring for the United States and the rest of NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine (like was done in the Balkans) in an attempt to ease the senseless slaughter. As tempting is this idea may be, there’s a very good reason why it’s not going to happen. When NATO imposed a no-fly zone in the Balkans, the situation was totally different. It was being done against a force that had almost no air power and very limited air defense systems. More importantly, there was virtually no chance that the conflict would spread into a wider war. The current situation is nothing like that. Russia is a major military power with a very large nuclear arsenal whose military doctrine includes the idea of first strike use of nuclear weapons, particularly tactical nukes. If the United States and the rest of NATO started to impose a no-fly zone, in all likelihood, NATO planes would have to shoot down Russian planes. This would likely lead to Russia trying to shoot down NATO planes with anti-aircraft missiles and jet fighters. Then NATO would probably begin trying to take out Russian anti-aircraft missile sites on the ground in addition to Russian planes in the air. In other words, trying to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine would very likely lead to war between NATO and Russia. If that happened, there is a very real chance that it would expand into a much wider war, World World War III. In such a war, four nuclear powers would be involved with the United States, Great Britain, and France being those on one side and Russia on the other. The risk of such a war ending in an exchange of nuclear weapons is just too dangerous. This is why NATO is not going to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine. The international community must unite and work together as much as possible to isolate and punish Vladimir Putin for his bloody invasion of Ukraine. We need as many countries as possible to impose severe sanctions upon Russia in order to make Putin and his Oligarch supporters suffer financially. Nations also need to provide as much military and humanitarian aid as possible to the Ukrainian people and military to help Ukraine fight back against Russia’s brutality. The invasion of Ukraine is clearly heartbreaking, vicious, brutal, and outright criminal, but as we respond to Russia’s horrendous actions, we must do so with clear heads because while we need to isolate and punish Russia, a wider war that could go nuclear would be even more devastating.
Feb 27, 2022 I have great admiration for the courage and strength that Ukrainians are showing in fighting against Vladimir Putin’s vicious, brutal aggression. They are inspiring people around the world in the way they are standing up for freedom and democracy against great odds. Vladimir Putin is clearly a barbaric, ruthless authoritarian autocrat who for years has had a reputation of being cold blooded and calculating in his quest to enhance and expand his power. He has imprisoned and killed political opponents as well as established significant control over Russian media. It’s also become quite clear how he desperately wants to reestablish as much dominance and control over former Soviet republics as he can because he views the dissolution of the Soviet Union as a catastrophic event. Another factor that is likely playing a role is that Russian power in the world has been decreasing while that of other countries such as China has been rising. But what is more disturbing is how it seems Putin has become increasingly unhinged, desperate, and likely surrounded by individuals who never disagree with him. It’s obvious that he has despised and fumed at seeing an independent Ukraine which has become more democratic and closer to the European Union while growing increasingly distant from Russia. This toxic soup of Putin’s led to his seizure of Crimea in 2014 and his instigation of Russian separatists in the Donbas region. These actions pushed Ukraine even closer to the West and more distant from Russia. And now we have Putin’s brutal, unwarranted Russian invasion, a blatant move of bloody aggression as he attempts to impose even more dominance and control over Ukraine. Furthermore, what’s also dangerously disturbing is that considering Putin’s attitude regarding former Soviet republics (don’t forget that he already seizured part of Georgia), it’s obvious that he doesn’t intend to stop with Ukraine. We all need to unite against this senseless, vicious, bloody brutality and rally to Ukraine’s support. I’m glad the United States, NATO, and other countries are imposing serious sanctions to punish Putin’s Russia. The international community must isolate Russia as much as possible and make it the pariah that it has become. And nations need to send as much aid as they can to Ukraine in the form of weapons, ammunition, and humanitarian supplies to help the Ukrainian people as they battle Putin’s tyranny. It’s clear that a renewed cold war has now descended upon the world, and it will be vitally important for as much of the international community as possible to work together for as long as it takes to minimize the damage Putin can inflict upon the world.