Women now allowed to serve in combat
An executive order issued on Jan. 24, will now allow women to serve in combat positions in the United States military services. United States defense secretary, Leon Panetta, said that the Pentagon dropped its ban on this issue to allow the United States military to take advantage of the abilities that women would bring to the field. At a Pentagon ceremony honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., Panetta followed this by saying that the women of the United States had, “proven their ability to serve in an expanding number or roles,” and that the military would become more powerful if it were to use all of the diverse strengths that the country has to offer.
The dropping of this ban creates the possibility of over 230,000 battlefront positions for women in the multiple United States military services. Combat positions should not only allow women to bring their skills to the battlefield, but also provide for promising career advancement opportunities.
Women will still be required to meet firm physical requirements for each position they enter, and there is still a possibility they will not be allowed in every combat position. Pentagon officials have given the chiefs of the United States military services three years to research these requirements and make official guidelines.
Not everyone believes that women should be allowed in combat positions, though. Concerns have been raised that women do not have the strength or stamina to complete assigned tasks. Jerry Boykin, a retired Army lieutenant general, called the new positions for women, “…social experiments that will place unnecessary burdens on military commanders.” Others are concerned that the American public will not be able to accept large losses of women in war.
In a statement by the President from the Office of the Press Secretary, President Barack Obama said the position openings “reflect the courageous and patriotic service of women through more than two centuries of American history and the indispensable role of women in today’s military.” He continued by saying this move will, “strengthen our military, enhance our readiness, and be another step toward fulfilling our nation’s founding ideals of fairness and equality.”
North Korea begins new nuclear testing
Kim Jong-un, leader of North Korea, has vowed to increase North Korea’s arsenal and to continue nuclear testing. In a statement released on Jan. 24 at North Korea’s National Defense Commission, the United States’ role in attempting to neutralize the world’s nuclear state was challenged.
Additionally, negative comments were made toward the United Nations Security Council by North Korea regarding a resolution that was adopted on Jan. 22, which increases sanctions against North Korea and found their rocket launch in early December to be a violation of a previous resolution. Even China, one of North Korea’s few allies, agreed with the United States and the other countries behind the resolution.
The statement from the North Korea defense commission read, “The United States is taking the lead in encroaching upon the sovereignty of the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea], its allies are siding with it, and the United Nations Security Council has been reduced into an organization bereft of impartiality and balance.”
The majority of the statement targeted its harsh language at the United States.
“…A nuclear test of higher level will be carried out by [the DPRK] in the upcoming all-out action, a new phase of the anti-United States struggle that has lasted century after century, will target against the United States, the sworn enemy of the Korean people,” read another portion of the statement, “Settling accounts with the United States needs to be done with force, not with words…”
According to the defense commission, only the complete denuclearization of the rest of the world, specifically the United States, will stop North Korea from pursing new and more dangerous nuclear testing. Glyn Davies, special envoy on North Korea, said in an interview with reporters that more nuclear action from North Korea would be a mistake. “This unanimous action by the Security Council makes it clear,” said Davis, “that the international community is sending a strong signal to North Korea.”
Anniversary of Egyptian revolt recognized
The Egyptian people and the global community are recognizing the two-year anniversary of Egypt’s revolt, which reached a climax after 18 days of public demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak’s rule. Police killed more than 800 people in Egypt during the revolt. At this time, even Mubarak’s military opted to protect the demonstrators.
The revolt ended when Mubarak removed himself from office. In June 2012, Mubarak and his former interior minister were tried and found guilty of being accessories to murder because they did not stop the mass police killings during the revolt. They are both currently facing life in prison.
The Islamist Brotherhood took over after Mubarak’s removal from office. Mohamed Morsi, the original Islamist president, took power from Egypt’s interim military rulers, but was immediately criticized for not fulfilling the social welfare and justice that were the original demands of the 2011 revolters. Mohamed Adl, a teacher who participated in this year’s revolt, said, “The Egyptian people had so many dreams and the reality on the ground is that everything is still the same.”
On Friday, Jan. 25, thousands of Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square to watch the second anniversary of the revolt against the political rising of the Muslim Brotherhood. At this two year anniversary, demonstrations similar to those in 2011 were seen along with minor security issues in cities such as Cairo and Alexandria. Protestors chanted such phrases as, “Leave, leave,” and “The people want the fall of the regime.” Some other chants were changed slightly to focus more on the Islamist Brotherhood, saying that Mohamed Badie, the Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, needed to be removed from power.
In the afternoon, a small group of teenaged protestors began to throw rocks over a cement barrier towards security forces that surrounded the Interior Ministry Building. The security officers responded by returning the rocks. They also released canisters of tear gas. Later in the day, another fight began when a group of people threw rocks at the office that runs the Muslim Brotherhood website.
Meanwhile, another group broke into and vandalized the Muslim Brotherhood office. The Brotherhood asked their supporters to stay away from the revolt in the hopes of avoiding unnecessary injuries. H. A. Hellyer, a researcher at the Brooklyn Institution encourages the revolt to a certain degree, “It is important that people go down to the square, if for no other reason than to remind Egypt, and themselves, that something really special happening during those 18 days two years ago. That energy, however, can’t stay in the square. It’s got to be channeled.”
Those revolting believe that their actions are building a strong backbone for a new kind of government. “The Islamists have been saying that they are the good guys,” said Ayman Roshdy, a retired marketing consultant, “Now they are in control and they are being exposed by the minute. And we are building a political movement that will help us to produce a reasonable government.”