Troubling Times

May 1, 2022
   Damn, things seem really frustrating, disheartening, confusing, and downright scary these days. On the international news front, we’re witnessing terrible, heart-wrenching examples of death, suffering, and carnage being wrought by Vladimir Putin’s vicious, bloody, unwarranted invasion of Ukraine.  On the domestic side here in the United States, bitter divisions in politics and society have gotten so bad that it often seems virtually impossible to get anything done. Despite it being the 21st century, we’re seeing far too much intolerance, prejudice, ignorance, and hate throughout the nation, and what’s even more disturbing is how many social conservatives are pushing for policies that actually worsen these problems.
   Think about it. In numerous states, there are social conservatives trying to pass laws that knowingly hurt the LGBTQ (Queer) Community, a community that was already suffering. A 2021 survey conducted by the Trevor Project of nearly 35,000 LGBTQ youth (ages 13 to 24) found that 42% had seriously considered suicide during the previous 12 months. That number rose to 52% for Transgender youth. Only one in three indicated that they lived in an LGBTQ affirming home. Yet despite evidence such as this, numerous Republicans are working hard to pass laws that would clearly hurt Queer kids instead of helping them. And what’s worse is that these laws will almost certainly increase LGBTQ suicide rates.
   There’s also been a move by many conservative Republicans to make a big deal about critical race theory and wanting to ban it from being discussed in schools. Well for one thing, it’s clear most of these individuals don’t even know (or don’t care) what critical race theory actually is because it’s a theory that is dealt with at the post graduate education level and not K through 12. But it seems that many Republicans are using the attack on this term to go after general discussions about race relations in American history classes. This effort by conservatives is extremely dangerous because in order to learn from past mistakes, people need to look at American history honestly (warts and all), and that clearly has to include race relations. There’s a lot of truth to the old adage: those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The brutal reality is that racism and other forms of prejudice (like that which is aimed at the LGBTQ Community) are still widely prevalent today, and as a result, it’s that much more important to include honest, frank discussions about such issues in school.
   So the thing is: we need to speak up and educate others about what is going on and what we can do to try to make things better. People should stand up for open-mindedness, tolerance, and be honest about America’s history and current situation, not stick their heads in sand ignoring the problems. We should all strive to make things better.

Earth Is In Serious Trouble If We Don’t Make Major Changes. Period.

   Earth is amazing when you think about it. The Universe is such a vast place with countless stars, planets, solar systems, and galaxies. It’s incredible to think about how so many things had to come together just right in order for life as we know it to form and evolve on this world. If Earth had been a little closer to the Sun or a little farther out, it wouldn’t have happened.
   So it’s really unfathomable how human beings, who are supposed to be the most intelligent species on the planet, are in the process of destroying the only home we have.
   Why are we doing this? Why are human beings devastating this beautiful world?
   Humans get so caught up in their daily lives that they often become thoughtless and short-sighted. They seem to only think about what will improve their own personal lives, families, careers, friends, and so on. People often lose sight of the bigger picture. Many don’t think about how their actions impact the world around them and as a whole. Plus, there are also humans who knowingly damage the environment out of pure greed. They don’t care. Companies and individuals that have willfully and illegally dumped toxic waste into lakes and rivers are classic examples.
   Most of the time I would say it’s a combination of these various factors. There are plenty of people who don’t necessarily want to be hurtful and greedy, yet to varying degrees become so as they pursue what they want and what they feel they need.
   The thing is: there is overwhelming evidence that human activity is causing serious damage to the only home we have, Earth. Ecosystems are being lost and too many species of animals and plants are on the verge of extinction because of human activity. CO2 levels continue to rise which is leading to dangerous increases in global temperatures and changes in the Earth’s climate. This in turn leads to more frequent extreme weather events, droughts, wildfires, water shortages, and more. Many scientists are genuinely concerned that if things don’t change very soon, there will be mass extinctions of many species of animals and plants.
   We can’t keep doing this to the only home we have.
   We all need to make changes in our lives, big and small, in order to take better care of Earth. People need to start educating themselves and seeing the bigger picture of what is going on and what we need to do.
   If we start making better choices and working to make this a better world, in a hundred years, Earth could be a beautiful place where humans and nature have found a balance and live in harmony.
   But if we continue down the destructive path that we are headed, in a 100 years, Earth will be a place that is grossly overpopulated, badly polluted, and where countless species of plants and animals have gone extinct.
   It’s time for all of us to make changes so that in a hundred years, the former will hopefully be true and not the latter.
  

http://ocean.si.edu/through-time/ancient-seas/sea-level-rise

https://climate.nasa.gov/

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-24021772

The United States And Guns

   The United States of America has a serious gun problem. One way or another, most people know this, although some are in denial and don’t want to believe it or admit it. But it’s true.
   Too many people are dying every single day tragically and needlessly because of gun violence.
   When the Constitution was created in the 18th century, it was a different time. There were no smartphones, communication was slow, the standing army was tiny, and many people lived in small rural communities or farms that were isolated and far away from help if something occurred. If you lived on a small farm in the 1700s, you couldn’t jump in the car and go to the grocery store. Small farmers frequently had to be much more self-reliant growing a significant amount of their own food and sometimes hunting for meat. Also if a criminal came to the farm, they couldn’t call 911. In many ways, they were on their own because it could take hours or longer to alert the authorities and get help. Something else to consider is that the muskets of the 18th century were much slower to reload and much less accurate than weapons today. Someone with significant practice could get off maybe three shots in a minute, give or take. In real world circumstances, it was likely often less than three a minute. And finally, the United States of the 18th century and early 19th centuries relied heavily on militias for defense because the standing army was tiny.
   In other words, the Second Amendment was written in another time when the circumstances were vastly different than today.
  It’s now the 21st century, and the United States has a large standing military, the National Guard, extensive police and law enforcement agencies, rapid communication, vehicles, planes, trains, grocery stores, and much deadlier guns. It’s definitely a different time.
   Let’s start by comparing assault rifles to muskets. A muzzleloading musket from the 18th century would take around 20 seconds to reload and fire if you were experienced, whereas a semi-automatic assault rifle can fire essentially as fast as your finger can squeeze on top of having high capacity clips. Realistically, someone could fire 60 rounds or more in a minute with a much higher degree of accuracy than the old muzzleloading muskets. The people who wrote the Second Amendment likely had no idea that assault rifles would ever exist or be in the hands of civilians.
   Now, let’s compare gun violence in the United States to that of other countries which have stricter gun control laws. First, death by firearms in 2017 per 100,000 people. According to the statistical site, Our World In Data, the United States rate was 4.63. The United Kingdom’s rate was 0.06, whereas Australia’s was 0.18. Germany’s was 0.1, and Japan’s was 0.03. Think about the vast difference between these countries and the United States.
   Now let’s look at the rate of death by interpersonal violence using any method in 2017 per 100,000 people. In the United States, the rate was 6.1. The UK’s was 0.5, and Australia’s was 1.4. Germany’s rate was 0.8 and Japan’s was 0.6. As you can see, the rates are multiple times lower than that of the United States.
   Take a look at these numbers. Look at the vast difference between United States and these other countries. The UK, Germany, Japan, and Australia have crime like the United States does. Their crime rates overall may be a little less than the United States in some cases, but not that much less.
   So let’s be honest about what’s going on. The major factor that explains the significant difference in murder rates is guns. The other countries listed here have much stricter gun control laws than the United States does. That’s the big difference. And if you compare these rates between the United States and other countries such as Belgium, France, and others, you will find similar results.
   It’s clear as day that the United States has a major gun problem and must enact stricter gun control laws. Gun violence in this country is just plain way out of control, and too many innocent people including children are dying every single day because of it.
   I’m not saying make all guns illegal. But there are practical, common sense gun control laws that would make a difference, especially in the long term. Ideas include banning assault style rifles from private ownership. No civilian needs an assault rifle. Assault rifles were created to kill human beings in times of war. That’s what they were designed for. Not for hunting animals or sport shooting. Restricting the size of clips is another practical idea that could save lives. Again, no one needs clips that hold 30 rounds of ammunition or more. Mandatory training and licensing would be a great idea. In order to drive a vehicle, you have to take a test and get a license, so why not do something similar for guns. Also, more extensive background checks would save a lot of lives as would tighter laws on proper storage of guns and ammunition when not in use. Too many kids die in tragic accidents when they grab their parents’ loaded gun that was sitting below the bed.
   By instituting laws like this nationwide, many lives would be saved, and law-abiding citizens who want to have a gun for hunting or similar would still be able to do so. As a matter of fact, many gun owners support gun control laws like this.
   So it’s definitely time to act. People need to stop automatically opposing gun control legislation ideas. Too many Americans are needlessly dying every single day. It’s time to enact better gun control laws.
   Future innocent lives are literally at stake.

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/homicide-rates-from-firearms

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/homicide-rate

https://www.numbeo.com/crime/compare_countries_result.jsp?country1=United+States&country2=United+Kingdom

The Inflation Going On Has Been Caused By A Complex Set Of Circumstances

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.

Anti-LGBTQ Legislation Harms People And Increases Suicide Rates

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.

https://www.thetrevorproject.org/survey-2021/?section=Introduction

Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill Becomes Law

   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.

https://www.thetrevorproject.org/survey-2021/?section=Introduction

We Should Send Planes To The Ukrainian Air Force That They Can Use Themselves

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.

Current Events Reveal How Much We Need To Shift To Renewable, Clean Energy Sources

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.

The US And Allies May Need To Ban Russian Petroleum Exports

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.

As Tempting As It Is, A No-Fly Zone Isn’t Going To Happen

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.