Beyond the Bricks
by Andrew Magown | published Mar. 4th, 2014
The Most Expensive Olympics Comes to a Close
Overall Russia’s expenditure into the Olympics cost the nation $51 billion dollars in investments, according to CBS news. This is largely due to the reconstruction of Sochi in preparation for the games. However Russia managed to drastically improve its city within seven years’ time by transforming the city into a bustling resort town. "Now we can see our country is very friendly," said Boris Kozikov of St. Petersburg, Russia, according to CBS News. "This is very important for other countries around the world to see."
On February 23, Russia said goodbye to the Winter Olympics with fireworks, medals and humor. Dancers in shimmering silver cloaks flooded the stage, and began to form the five rings that represent the Olympics. To everyone’s surprise the dancers purposefully left one of the rings closed, just as it had due to a malfunction in Russia’s opening ceremony on February 7. Laughs and cheers were heard across the stadium, until the ring finally opened to complete the Winter Olympics. Each nation’s athletes marched together instead of separately, creating a feeling of union.
Proposal to Shrink the Army
A proposal planned by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was released with on February 17; the goal is to shrink the military budget back to a pre-WWII position for 2015. According to the New York Times, the first draft drastically cut costs on several departments within the army, such as its Air Force and foreign bases. Now that America has exited from multiple two-front wars, the Obama administration hopes to refocus its fiscal plans. To meet the $496 billion Bipartisan Budget Act proposed by the Obama Administration, the proposal would require a one-year salary freeze towards most officers.
The point of this proposal would be to focus on defensive measures taken against any threat. This includes reducing the number of troops in active duty from 570,000 to eventually 444,000 troops, but not excluding an air craft carrier, cruisers, apache helicopters and the entire A-10 jet force. “You have to always keep your institution prepared, but you can’t carry a large land-war Defense Department when there is no large land war,” a senior Pentagon official said, according to the New York Times. The proposal has come under heavy criticism by members of Congress, who have threatened legislative action. If the proposal is passed, U.S. military funding would shift from large scale warfare to mostly Special Operations and cyber warfare.
Ukraine’s Shift in Power
On February 23, Ukrainian officials and citizens met after the ousting of Parliament President Viktor F. Yanukovych to discuss an end to the bloodshed. After three months of protests and fights Parliament has begun to side with the new government, providing political powers to protestor and lawmaker Oleksandr V. Turchynov. After a clash between Kiev’s police and protestors leaving 82 dead, the people of Ukraine hope that such sacrifices were not in vain.
To help assure that there will not be a repeat of the violence between the armed forces and citizens, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry reaffirmed a statement within their constitution that states, “Please be assured that the armed forces of Ukraine cannot and will not be involved in any political conflict.” Ukraine is under a temporary government situated at the Cabinet of Ministers building, guarded by antigovernment fighters. “Our first task today is to stop confrontation, renew governance, management and legal order in the country,” said Turchynov. “We have to rebuke any displays of separatism and threats to the territorial integrity of Ukraine.”