When looking at where we are and what has happened, that we survived is quite an accomplishment. That we are able to move on into 2016 is not something to which we can claim credit for any positive attribute on our part. Dumb luck would seem to be most responsible. Our leadership has failed on virtually every level both internationally and domestically.
State Department spokesperson John Kirby is raising eyebrows after he released a recap of 2015 "success stories" in which he credits the United States for bringing "peace" and "security" to Syria and "stepping up" to help the country's people at a difficult time.
"The United States and many members of the international community have stepped up to aid
We’ve been at war for the past 14 years in that part of the world. Isn’t it time to stop fighting over there?
And what of Assad? He’s a ruthless dictator, to be sure. And the civil war he helped set in motion has claimed the lives of more than 200,000 of his own countrymen — and forced nearly 12 million more to flee their homes as refugees or internally displaced people within Syria.
But he’s also the only one protecting religious minorities like Alawites, Druze, and Christians in Syria — the latter of whom make up about 10 percent of the population, including notable minorities in both the Syrian parliament and cabinet. Unlike many people elsewhere in the region, Syrians of all traditions were generally free to practice their faith before the war began.
This also used to be the case in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, despite his own ruthlessness. By now most Iraqi Christians have fled the country. Church leaders have been kidnapped and murdered. And you’re more likely to meet an Iraqi Christian in Detroit than in Baghdad.
That catastrophe began in April 2014, as the Rust Belt city was under control of an emergency manager, and it moved its water supply from the Detroit system to the Flint River without the proper corrosive controls. Lead leached from pipes, putting thousands of the city's children at risk of brain damage from the contamination and prompting local outcry. A local pediatrician has called it an "emergency" situation that is "alarming and absolutely gut-wrenching."
A pipe leak has been releasing an estimated tens of thousands of kilograms of methane into the air every hour since mid-October, leading environmentalists like Erin Brockovich to declare it "a catastrophe the scale of which has not been seen since the 2010 BP oil spill."
"The enormity of the Aliso Canyon gas leak cannot be overstated. Gas is escaping through a ruptured pipe more than 8,000 feet underground, and it shows no sign of stopping. As the pressure from weight on top of the pipe causes the gas to diffuse, it only continues to dissipate across a wider and wider area. According to tests conducted in November by the California Air Resources Board, the leak is spewing 50,000 kilograms of gas per hour—the equivalent to the strength of a volcanic eruption."
According to the Guardian, 1,126 people were killed by police so far in 2015, averaging more than three a day, with 27 percent of those slain facing mental health issues.
The numbers confirm the racial injustices highlighted by nationwide protests. Among black people in America, 6.9 per million were killed by police, compared to 2.86 white people per million. In other words, African-Americans were nearly 2.5 times as likely to be killed by police as their white counterparts.
Native-Americans and Latinos were also disproportionately likely to have their lives taken by law enforcement, with 3.4 per million and 3.35 per million killed respectively.