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Alexander Ly

A student currently attending UCSD with a major interest in politics.

Clinton, Sanders, and What Comes Next After Iowa

A Closer Look into the Democratic Primaries with Hilary Clinton an Bernie Sanders

Statistics from Iowa

The Democratic Frontrunner Hillary Clinton has managed to a clutched win in the Iowa Caucus, winning by a mere 0.02% against Bernie Sanders. Clinton received 23 delegates to Sanders’ 21. For both campaigns, this caucus is seen as a victory. Hillary Clinton was able to clinch out a win and prove once again why she is the Democratic Frontrunner. This also comes as good news for her campaign, which has seen public support dramatically increase for Clinton’s opponent. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, proved how efficient and viable his campaign is. He has gone from a fringe candidate to a serious contender for the nomination. After a severe underperformance by Martin O’Malley, he has decided to call it quits and ended his run.

Sanders had overwhelming support from young voters. Over 80% of Iowa Caucus goers aged 18 to 24 chose Sanders over Clinton. On the other hand, Clinton has greater support from voters aged 45 and higher. While liberals and progressives are more likely to align themselves with Sanders, Clinton still attracts more of the moderate Democrats.

You will also like: Bernie Sanders’ Iowa rally looks like a Lollapalooza lineup


Clinton’s Delegate-Count Advantage

Clinton is still holds a significant amount of “superdelegates” which are chosen by elected Democrat officials and members of the Democratic National Committee. Clinton already has 357 pledged superdelegates compared to Bernie Sanders’ 14. The caveat to superdelegates though is that they can shift their support from one candidate to another.

2,382 delegates, hard and superdelegates, are required to win the Democratic nomination. Clinton has already taken about half of the superdelegates available. Should Bernie Sanders continue to do well against Hillary Clinton, some superdelegates are bound to switch sides however.

Beyond the Iowa Caucus

The next state to hold a primary is New Hampshire. There Bernie Sanders hold a dominant lead over Clinton. Polls show him to be ahead of Clinton at a 2 to 1 ratio. However, the polls are reversed in Nevada and South Carolina where Clinton holds a strong lead. These four states precede Super Tuesday where 12 states will hold their caucuses/primaries.

Bernie Sanders will need to be able to connect with states with more racial diversity in order to sustain his momentum. This is something Clinton already has with a steady lead in support from non-white voters at about 67%.

You should also read: The first South Carolina Democratic presidential forum 

Paul Ryan takes the position as house speaker

Ryan Now Wields the Gavel while Clinton Regains Her Footing

Paul Ryan Ascends the Ranks after Boehner Steps Down

R-WI, Paul Ryan takes the position of House Speaker this Thursday. This came after the resignation of John Boehner, R-OH, and after House Majority Leader Paul McCarthy, R-Calif., dropped out of the race. Ryan now has the daunting task of mending a rift in the GOP. In his address to Congress, he noted, “We are not settling scores…We are wiping the slate clean.”

The new House Speaker is the youngest since 1869 but has ties to various blocs within the Republican Party. Likewise, Ryan urged both Republicans and Democrats to work together in Congress. He received 236 votes for the speakership.

Paul Ryan was also the vice president running mate of 2012 candidate Mitt Romney who was ultimately defeated by Barack Obama. He had served in the House since 1998 and chairs the House Budget Committee.

Also read: Third round republican presidential debate recap

McCarthy was the number two favorite for the position but his nomination was derailed by controversial comments on the Benghazi Committee and the opposition from the House Freedom Caucus.

McCarthy had, in an interview, remarked how the Benghazi Committee was a plot to undermine the presidential campaign of former Senator and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D-NY). This comes with the fact that Clinton had been reviewed by 13 committees for four deaths, and costed taxpayers over $10 million.

The House Freedom Caucus contains about 40 neo-conservative members. They have opposed McCarthy on grounds that he was too establishment as well as the fact that they want more power for rank and file members in the House. The Freedom Caucus had decided to back Jim Webster, R-Fla., against Paul Ryan. Ultimately Webster dropped out and Ryan was able to secure most of the support of the GOP to gain the seat.

 It was also due to the inability to work with the rising tea party anti-establishment faction within the House that Boehner decided to call it quits.

Hillary Clinton Gets a Boost in Polls

Hillary Clinton has surged in polls against her chief rival Bernie Sanders (I-VT). In the latest polls Clinton has a 41% lead against Bernie Sanders. This comes as a big shift in fortunes for the former Secretary of State. Just in September, Sanders had a small lead over her.

This comes after a strong performance in the first Democratic Party Debate and aided by Clinton’s firm resolve in the Benghazi Hearings along with Vice President Joe Biden’s decision to not run.

However all polls should be taken with caution and the shift in fortunes prove just that. Nothing is secure in the world of polling as opinion changes.

You should also read: 2015 Israeli Legislative Election: Netanyahu Leads Herzog

Hillary Clinton has another objective. She is strategically securing super-delegates and already won commitments from 440 of them. Her campaign has sought to develop regular contact in order to stabilize such commitments as they can shift like they did in 2008.

A majority of delegates is needed to win, which comes to 2,385, thus Clinton has secured about one-fifth of that amount.

The next presidential debate is coming up while ‘block of granite’ Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb have already decided to drop the bid. The debate could be a boost to Clinton’s campaign if she is able to outlast attacks from Sanders and O’Malley. 

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Ayatollah Khamenei endorses Iran Deal

Six decades of Iranian nuclear development

Ayatollah Khamenei Endorses Iran Deal

This Wednesday Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, declared his support for the Iran deal. However it is with the condition that all sanctions must be lifted or Iran will refuse to cooperate.

Ayatollah Khamenei’s announcement also pointed to flaws in the Iran Deal and harshly criticized the Obama Administration. The ayatollah emphasized “ambiguities” and “structural weaknesses” of the deal which may weaken Iran and also that the United States could not be trusted.

The rhetoric is a mechanism for the leader to maintain a clear balance between the moderate government led by President Rouhani and the more extreme Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Should the ayatollah appear too welcoming of the deal, he would alienate the IRGC. However should the ayatollah push hard against the Iranian deal, he could make the deal fall through and let Iran continue to be crippled by sanctions.

A Washington Times/ABC News Poll appeared to show 45% of Americans support the Iran deal while 44% are opposed to it and 11% are unsure. Despite the media frenzy on the Iran Deal few Americans actually understand and know the background on the deal or details of the deal itself.

You will also read: US nuclear deal with Iran


A Brief Overview of the Iranian Nuclear Program

In 1957, Iran then under a Western friendly monarchy, was a participant in one of President Eisenhower’s developmental projects called ‘Atoms for Peace’ where nuclear research and materials were provided for participating countries. This program laid the foundation for Iranian nuclear development.

In 1967 the United States provided Iran with a small nuclear reactor that used enriched uranium and produced about 600 grams of plutonium per year. Shah Pahlavi, then ruler of Iran, ordered the construction of 20 nuclear reactors and worked with MIT to provide scientific and technological training to Iranians.

After the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the United States ended nuclear cooperation with Iran. However Iran still received resources and technology from other sources such as Russia and China.

China, not a part of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1991, provided Iran with a large quantity of uranium materials along with key chemicals and technology to separate plutonium. Russia helped Iran build the Arak Heavy Water Reactor, which produces weapon grade plutonium. AQ Khan, a Pakistani scientist trained in the West also stole plans for a more efficient design for nuclear weapons development along with blueprints to build centrifuges. Centrifuges are used for uranium enrichment.

Jump to 2010, then Iranian President Ahmadinejad declared Iran to be a nuclear state and the capacity to develop nuclear weapons if they wanted to. This provoked harsh sanctions by the global community, spearheaded by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In 2011, Stuxnet, a virus program posing as a OS patch, destroyed thousands of centrifuges by making them spin out of sync.

The election of current President Rouhani led to negotiations for a ‘joint plan of action’ in response to the sanctions that crippled the Iranian economy. Those negotiations materialized as the Iran Deal.

Key Elements of the Nuclear Deal   

A key component as negotiated by Iran, P5+1, and the EU would be that Iran reduce their number of centrifuges from almost 20,000 to about 6,000 which would increase the time Iran needs to develop a bomb from 2-3 months to about a year. Iran would also need to reduce their enriched uranium stockpile by 98 percent. These requirements would last for 15 years.

Inspections would take place to calculate the amount of uranium that is mined and inspectors are allowed accessed to any requested location within 24 days. Iran would also have to provide information on Iran’s weaponization program in the past. The inspections regime would last 25 years.

Under these circumstances, Iran would have to build a whole new covert nuclear weapons program which is made difficult given the established inspections regime. Though the restrictions taper off, Iran is never allowed to possess nuclear weapons.

Even if Iran decides to restart their nuclear weapons program, the global community would be vigilant in stopping Iran. However with the deal, Iran is given clear incentives to avoid attaining nuclear weapons. Without the deal, Israel would have bombed the Iranian facilities and probably trigger a war. With the deal there is a chance for peace.

You will also like: Overview of the 2015 British Elections: Tories Win, Labour Date

5 ways to get politically involved in college

How to earn direct experience in politics while in college

Political awareness is great for anyone, but these 5 ways to get politically involved in college are vital for anyone interested in politics and pursuing higher education. For social science majors, getting involved in the political process is not only great, but an asset. As it is said, ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’ Networking and building your resume early on will benefit your job searching in the future.

Register to Vote

This should be a no-brainer! It is imperative to vote to keep your elected officials accountable to the public. Your vote is even more vital if you live in a swing state during the general election. It is also vital for the primaries if you live in states that count primary votes early on like Iowa or New Hampshire. Midterm elections tend to have a miserable turnout but this can reversed by actually turning up to vote. You should be able to register vote online or via mail. Forms can be obtained in your local DMV office. You may also be able to find volunteers helping people register to vote on college campuses. Bear in mind the process could be complicated a bit more if you live in a state with required voter ID laws.

Also read: Hillary Clinton vs Bernie Sanders

Get Involved with Your Local Political Party Branch

This year is an election year, which attracts the attention of many students not normally politically involved. A great way to gain knowledge about issues and help your political party of choice is to become a member of your local party branch on campus. These organizations are often tied to the local party chapter outside your campus, which exposes you to city/provincial level politics and is great for anyone trying to get politically involved as a college student. It should not be too hard to find the Democratic Party and the Republican Party tabling or setting up events to attract students. Aside from attending events, you will have the chance to meet politicians ranging from the city to national level. This also presents opportunities for internships for campaigns. Often helping a party as an individual is in the form of making campaign calls, attending summits and maintaining social media.

Single Issue Organizations

There should be on-campus groups that are focused on issues such as women’s rights, LGBT community, minimum wage, human rights, among others. In response to human rights abuses against Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank, a proposal within the University of California system to divest from Israel passed in each UC campus separately then in the UC Board of Regents in 2015. Both sides of the issue campaigned vigorously to sway people to their side.  Single issue organizations are tailored to advance the cause of a particular subject which is good if you decide you want to focus your time on particular topics and not on everything. These are perfect opportunities for political development as you will be able to help groups you are personally invested in. If not, these are still opportunities to learn about various issues in our society.


Work as a Poll Worker

On Election Day, teams of poll workers manage numerous polling centers. Long voting lines are a result of too few poll workers. Becoming a poll worker is a great opportunity to fulfill your duty as a citizen. (Aside from jury duty of course!) Poll workers positions are typically paid, potentially with paid training as well. Training time varies by state but it is usually around two hours. It is also beneficial to know another language since bilingual workers can be paid more. You may sign up online or mail in an application to become a poll worker for your state. Be mindful that requirements to be a poll worker may vary from state to state.


Internships are great for padding your resume with hands on experience. Typically less demanding than a full time paid position, internships are perfect for college students seeking an edge over their peers. Unpaid internships may even lead to paid positions. A great asset in finding internships would be your local party branch since they typically have connections to local bureaucrats and politicians. Starting small is not a problem at all, even interning for a city council race will give you experience that you otherwise would not have.

Already Decided to Support Bernie Sanders? Perhaps it is Time to Reconsider

Three Reasons why Hillary Clinton is the Better Candidate over Bernie Sanders

Have you already decided to support Bernie Sanders? Perhaps it is time to reconsider such decisions. The fight to secure the Democratic Party’s backing in the presidential election has already heated up. Candidate organizers rush to network in various states and volunteers clamor to voice their support of various candidates. The immense popularity of Bernie Sanders among university students is overwhelming. However when people finally decide to carefully scrutinize the policies proposed by both candidates along with their achievements, they would perhaps decide Clinton is the better candidate.


There is about $1.2 trillion in college debt which is a great burden on recent graduates along with the US economy. This debt economically hamstrings millennials and dissuades them from buying property and starting new households. This in turn stunts economic growth in the US. Hillary Clinton’s educational finance plan, heavily influenced by Elizabeth Warren, is a realistic way education can be made affordable for those willing to work for it.

Bernie Sanders had pledged to make public colleges and universities tuition free. Sanders plans to do so through taxing Wall Street transactions with a fee of 0.5 percent on stock trades, 0.1 percent fee on bonds, and a 0.005 percent fee on derivatives on hedge funds, and other speculators in order to provide $70 billion a year (amounting to $700 billion over ten years). Two-thirds of the funds would come from the federal government and the rest from states. The current graduate loan interest rate would drop from 4.29 percent to 2.37.

Also read: Hillary Clinton vs Bernie Sanders

Clinton’s plan still requires families to contribute to their students’ tuition alongside federal investment. Students would also contribute through ten hour per week jobs. States would be expected to maintain current levels of funding and reinvest later on. The plan also pledges to lower interest rates for new loans and allow graduates to refinance their existing loans at lower rates. The plan would require $350 billion over ten years and would be funded by capping the value of itemized deductions of high income taxpayers on their tax returns.

Comparing the two policy plans, Clinton arguably has the better plan. Her strategy would provide sustained financial aid to students in need but also encourage bipartisan support through highlighted importance of ‘personal accountability.’ This makes her agenda more likely to be passed into law compared to Bernie Sander’s.

Foreign Policy

Bernie Sanders is shown in a “dovish” light as opposed to “hawkish” Clinton, however Sanders had proven to be capable of supporting war. The international community had potentially found a solution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions with the culmination of the Iran Deal. Albeit satisfactory for the time being, Iran’s pledge is but a compromise and the West must treat it as such. Without adequate enforcement, the inspections regime would be unable to fulfill its task and potentially result in Iranian nuclear weapons. While Bernie Sanders has not ruled out the possibility of using military force in situations, Hillary Clinton would be more capable of ensuring such force is met. The task of rallying Sanders’ progressive supporters could pose problematic for any actions against Iran by a Sanders Administration.

This is despite Sanders opposition to how the US’ defense budget is higher than the next 10 most militarily active countries combined. Sanders voted in favor of bombing Yugoslavia during Bill Clinton’s presidency. However he justly voted against the Iraq war and strongly suggested against attacking the Assad regime.

In wake of Clinton’s infamous vote in favor of the Iraq war, voters should nonetheless be reminded (or perhaps be made aware) of Clinton’s foreign policy achievements from negotiating a nearly impossible ceasefire with Hamas in 2012 to signing the START treaty with Russia to limit nuclear missile launchers. She also revived political relations with Burma in her ‘Asia Pivot.’ Not to mention her long fight for women’s rights domestically and internationally highlighted by Clinton’s ‘Women’s Rights is Human Rights’ speech in 1995.

Comparing the two candidates’ stances and achievements, Clinton has more direct experience in international affairs as secretary of state. Though Clinton’s reputation with Middle Eastern conflicts is not to be ignored. (Iraq War, Benghazi, etc.) On the other hand Bernie Sanders has consistently supported his positions which is to reduce the defense budget and to avoid unnecessary wars.

However with the current international state of affairs, the United States would do better with a shrewd and calculating chief executive. Iran must be incentivized to fulfill their end of the nuclear deal. Russian bargaining power must be kept in check. Growing Chinese dominance in the South China Sea must be met with a commander-in-chief that would be willing to ‘cross the red line’ in support of US allies. Clinton would be the president more capable of handling this grim reality.

Also read: The biggest winners and losers: Round 2 of the Presidential debate


Public Relations

The Bernie Sanders popularity surge has truly threatened Clinton’s ‘inevitable’ candidate nomination and claims that Clinton can effortlessly gain the DNC nomination is false. Bernie Sanders’ message resonates extremely well among millennials. (College students in particular)

Joe Biden’s thoughts on running has also harmed Clinton’s support. Called the Biden effect, Joe Biden can potentially siphon support from Clinton according to polls. Though with less supporters than Clinton or Sanders, Biden could shift the spectrum of support more in favor of Bernie Sanders.

Both candidates received a fair share of endorsements from celebrities. Those favoring Bernie Sanders include Lil B, Will Ferrell, Zoe Kravitz, and Ezra Miller. Those favoring Clinton include Ariana Grande, 50 Cent, Carole King, and Magic Johnson.

However, Bernie Sanders is noticeably lacking in support from his fellow peers in the Senate or other government administrations. Clinton has received substantial endorsements. This includes 35 current and ex senators, 123 current and ex house representatives, and numerous state officials. Bernie Sanders has not been endorsed by members of the Senate or US House Representatives.

Despite the strong rhetoric and euphoria which emanates from the Sanders campaign, it is nonetheless populist in nature. With recognition to this, people must also realize the difficulties in working with an apparatus based around compromise. Compromise is something Clinton has shown able to do, and the same cannot be said for Bernie Sanders.


Bernie Sanders can be considered the new ‘messiah’ of the left, especially among many educators and college students. He is the Ron Paul equivalent of the American Left. Hillary Clinton’s record of reaching across the aisle and pushing for compromise makes her an easy target to paint as “corporate funded” or “untrustworthy.”

However it is imperative to remember that Clinton is running on a list of hard earned achievements while Bernie Sanders is running on a list of genuine promises.

Perhaps genuinely “knowing” the right policies and “searching for” the right policies makes a great difference in what a politician can achieve for a national after all. 

You will also want to check out: US nuclear deal with Iran

22 People Dead after Clash in Macedonia

On Sunday, Macedonian police conducted an operation against gunmen in the northern town of Kumanovo which lies 40 kilometers north of the capital Skopje.

The operation started early Saturday and the gun battles had left 37 policemen wounded and 8 dead. 14 other bodies were also recovered at the site.

Authorities faced grenades, sniper fire, and automatic weapons as they moved in on the armed group. A perimeter had been set up and dozens of people, mostly women, children and the elderly, had fled the zone prior to the assault.

The interior ministry stated that about 20 gunmen that surrendered on Saturday would be brought to trial in Skopje as an ongoing investigation concerning ethnic unrest.

The ministry also stated that the armed group were planning terrorist attacks on state and civilian institutions.

According to Macedonia police spokesman, Ivo Kotevski, the group included individuals with international arrest warrants and included ethnic Albanians from Kosovo and one Albanian aside from the Macedonians.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, stated, “I urge everyone to exercise restraint and avoid any further escalation, in the interest of the country and the whole region.”
Both NATO and the EU warned of escalating the violence in a region that broke into an ethnic Albanian insurgency in 2001. Albanians make up about a quarter of Macedonia’s 2.1 million population.

The 2001 insurgency ended in an agreement that provided more rights to the minority, however ethnic tensions remained and the violence in Kumanovo can be attributed to institutional weakness in the government.

The government and centre-left opposition have both accused each other of bribes and wiretapping.

Macedonian president Gjorge Ivanov held a security meeting that also included two Albanian factions where they condemned the violence. The countries of Albania and Kosovo also condemned the violence and urged for calm.

Overview of the 2015 British Elections: Tories Win, Labour Routed

David Cameron Reelected while Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg, and Nigel Farage Resigns

It was widely speculated that the May 7 elections would result in another hung parliament, where the ruling party would be forced into a coalition with other factions. Leading up to the election, it was also predicted that the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and the Scottish National Party (SNP) would become important factor in the election. The exit polls predicted the conservatives to receive 316 seats, labour 239, the Scots 58, Liberal Democrats 10, and UKIP 2.

Tories Emerge Victorious
In the conclusion of the election, Cameron clearly won and will return to No. 10 Downing Street for a second term. The Conservative Party managed to win 331 seats out of 650 seats in the House of Commons. This was 12 seats better than what the exit polls predicted.

In 2010, the conservatives were forced into a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. This time around the conservatives managed to win enough seats (over 326 but technically 323 since Sinn Fein never sits in parliament) to secure a majority government on their own.
On Friday, Cameron went to Buckingham Palace to formally ask the Queen for permission to establish a new government.

He said in a speech, “As we conduct this vital work we must ensure that we bring our country together. As I said in the small hours of this morning, we will govern as a party of one nation, one United Kingdom.”

Cameron now faces keeping intact the United Kingdom and deciding whether or not Britain remains in the European Union. Cameron’s victory means that the UK will have a referendum in 2017 to decide whether they will stay or leave the European Union. Cameron also seeks to negotiate with the Scots to prevent the Union from disintegrating.

Labour Future Uncertain
The direction of the British Labour Party is one of uncertainty. Labour was routed from Scotland, keeping only one constituency in face of an overwhelming SNP victory. Traditionally Labour was able to rely on its +50 seats in Scotland but its situation now ensures that Labour will have problems securing a majority of seats.

Doing worse than the exit polls suggested, Labour only retained 232 seats. Labour had failed to make significant gains in England and was dealt a tremendous blow in Scotland by the SNP.

Ed Miliband resigned as the head of the Labour Party. In a speech on Friday he said, “I take absolute and total responsibility for our defeat. I am so sorry for all of those colleagues who lost their seats.”
Shadow foreign secretary, Douglas Alexander, had lost his seat. Mhairi Black, a 20 year old undergraduate student representing the SNP, had unseated him.

Gordon Brown’s former seat of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath had also been lost to the SNP. The Scottish Labour Party Leader Jim Murphy had also lost his seat to the SNP.

In defiance of the face of defeat, Miliband concluded, “This party has come back before and will come back again.”

However, much remains to be fixed for the left.

You should also read: Third round republican presidential debate recap

There is no point changing the captain on the bridge if the ship is heading in the wrong direction,” said John Reid, who was defense and interior minister under former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair. Blair also stated that should Labour present itself as the traditional left party in opposition to the conservatives, it would continue to face defeat.

The Rise of Scottish Nationalism, Decline of the Liberal Democrats, and Failure of UKIP
The biggest winners, well next to Cameron, would definitely be the Scottish National Party. Sweeping Scotland, the party had gained 50 seats in this election and nearly kicked the Labour Party out of the north. Nicola Sturgeon had pledged to support a Labour government, though the Tory majority had prevented that scenario.

Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, had resigned. The party went from 57 seats in 2010 to 8 this election. Lord Ashdown who did not believe the exit polls grave forecast for the ‘Lib Dems’ had pledged to “publicly eat his hat” if the results proved true, which it has. Clegg, while retaining his seat, added that “fear and grievance have won, liberalism has lost.”

Nigel Farage head of UKIP had also resigned. Despite third in total number of votes received, UKIP had only won one seat in parliament.

You will also read: Ayatollah Khamenei endorses Iran Deal

Assad's Weakening Grasp on Syria

Assad Regime Facing Greatest Threat Since 2013

This Wednesday Syrian President Bashar al Assad visited a school in Damascus in a rare public appearance. Shaking hands with instructors and students, Assad urged the public to rally behind the troops and boost morale despite military setbacks.

The Syrian government is facing not only a renewed offensive from rebel forces south of Damascus but also advances from rebels in the north. The regime’s forces have not seen such setbacks since 2013.

Syrian military forces lost the northern city of Idlib to rebel forces in March and Jisr al Shughour late April. In the south, rebels captured Busra al-Sham and the Nassib border crossing with Jordan.

Turkey had traditionally backed the Islamists factions of the rebellion while Saudi Arabia supported more mainstream rebel forces. However, both countries have had a rapprochement, as they view Iran to be a greater threat.

The United States had been reluctant to support rebel forces, due to fears that aid would fall into the wrong hands and extremists would emerge dominant in the rebel movement.

Iran had been a traditional supporter of the Assad Regime with Russia providing political support. Iran also supports the Houthi rebels in Yemen and Hezbollah. Saudi Arabia views Iran as the greatest threat to its influence in the Middle East.

Assad also faces internal pressures besides the countries attempting to oust him. The Syrian army, initially a force of 250,000, have fallen to around half that level. Assad had been forced to recruit civilians into “National Defense Forces” and draft military age men.

Reliance on militias have caused governmental forces to be less reliable against the opposition.

The Syrian economy is also buckling. Starting with a national reserve of about $30 billion, only about $1 billion remain. Assad is dependent on foreign aid to prop up what remains of the regime.

Dressed professionally and appearing confident while shaking hands with school teachers and students, Assad reaffirmed his belief that the war was not lost. Assad stated that defeats and setbacks were natural in war.

However with momentum in favor of the rebels, the fall of Syria seems plausible.

Baltimore Riot Erupts After Funeral for Freddie Gray

Death of Freddie Gray Causes Mass Violence

Just hours after the funeral of Freddie Gray, rioters looted stores, assaulted police, and vandalized property in Baltimore. The governor notified Maryland National Guard to be prepared in case they were needed to enter the city.

Video footage displayed a CVS store on fire and riot police attempting to hold back rioters. Seven officers had been injured in the clashes. One was reportedly unresponsive and several others had broken bones.

Rioters torched one police cruiser after surrounding it. One news photographer was also attacked by youths.

According to someone within a 7-11 store, a group of youths entered throwing balls and breaking bottles among other products. They left after stealing some things.

According to Gray’s family attorney Billy Murphy, the family was shocked by the violence that is occurring and instead hoped to organize a peace march later in the week.

Gray’s funeral was attended to max capacity in the 2,500 capacity New Shiloh Baptist Church. The service was attended by a representative from the NAACP and Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes.

Prominent figures like Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton stressed the need for a solution of police brutality, especially targeting young black youths.

Gray, 25, was arrested last week as the police chased him through West Baltimore and loaded him into a van. It is unclear how Gray had gotten his spinal injury. He has a history of minor drug offenses.

This outburst in violence comes a few days after six officers were injured and 34 people arrested after a peaceful rally of about 1,000 people on Saturday turned violent.

Former CIA Director Petraeus Sentenced to Two Years' Probation

David Petraeus Ends Two and Half Year Ordeal

On Thursday, former CIA Director David Petraeus was sentenced to two years of probation and fined $100,000 for handing over classified material to his biographer, with whom Petraeus had an extramarital affair.

Two months earlier Petraeus had agreed to plead guilty on a federal misdemeanor of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material.

Petraeus agreed to the plea deal, which included a maximum of one year in prison, though prosecutors recommended two years’ probation and a fine of $40,000.

Judge David Keesler increased the fine to $100,000 in order to “reflect seriousness of the offense.”

According to prosecutors Petraeus gave his biographer, Paula Broadwell, eight binders of classified material he had illegally kept from his time as the top military commander in Afghanistan. Days later, he took the binders back to his house.

Petraeus retired from the US Army after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan as a four star general. He was brought in by Bush Jr. to command coalition forces in 2007.

Petraeus resigned from the CIA in November 2012.