It is a post-financial-crisis myth that austerity-minded conservative governments always favor fiscal prudence while redistribution-oriented progressives view large deficits as the world’s biggest free lunch. This simplistic perspective badly misses the true underlying political economy of deficits.
On Jan. 12, Russian and Chinese deputy foreign ministers agreed to maintain a strategic balance of forces in Northeast Asia and to jointly counter the U.S. missile defense system, THAAD, which will be deployed in South Korea, reported Interfax news agency. According to the Russian and the Chinese ministries of defense, the capabilities of the U.S. global missile defense system, and in particular of its European component, exceed defense requirements. North Korea’s ballistic missile program is in its infancy, whereas Iran, against whom the U.S. missile defense system in Europe is ostensibly targeted, is no longer a serious threat since agreements on Tehran’s nuclear program were reached, remarked Lt. General Viktor Poznihir, first deputy head of the main operational department of the Russian General Staff. "Under the pretext of countering what the Americans allege to be North Korean and Iranian missile threats, a system is being deployed that is primarily intended to counteract and threaten Russian and Chinese missiles," General Poznikhir said. Protecting South Korea? "The decision to deploy a U.S. missile defense system was taken two years ago to protect South Korea from its northern neighbor, and it's a powerful missile defense system that will be able to hit enemy ballistic missiles shortly after they launch," said Alexei Maslov, head of the Oriental Studies department at the Higher School of Economics. The THAAD system was developed by the U.S. defense giant, Lockheed Martin, and is effective against short-range missiles (up to 500 miles), Maslov added. "The system will be deployed in the immediate proximity of the North Korean border, but some elements will be deployed deep in South Korean territory," said Maslov. ``In effect, there will be several lines of defense." THAAD: Russia, U.S., need communication and transparency The radar component of the system, he continued, will be able to cover an area with a radius of 600 miles, which means that it also covers parts of Russian and Chinese territory. THAAD will be equipped with U.S. Patriot surface-to-air missile systems, as well as the Aegis Ashore system with MK-41 launching systems for SM-3 interceptor missiles. These missiles can destroy satellites in low Earth orbit, said Maslov. What worries Russia and China? "China and Russia are unhappy that the Americans are deploying a system that impinges upon both of our countries’ military infrastructures instead of jointly addressing the North Korea issue," said Dmitry Safonov, a military expert with the daily newspaper Izvestia. He added that MK-41 launching systems can be equipped not only with SM-3 interceptor missiles but also with Tomahawk cruise missiles that have an effective range of 1,500 miles. Thus, a missile defense system can easily turn into an offensive one. Safonov and Maslov agree that Washington is inadvertently pushing Moscow and Beijing to cooperate and develop a joint missile defense system. "We have held a series of talks with the Chinese on this issue, and our two countries are working on a plan of joint action," said Safonov. ``"They are also considering to hold a joint missile defense exercise since it is necessary to have preparation drills." China's headache Yet, not all analysts think Russia will pursue an aggressive policy in order to counter the U.S. missile defense system in South Korea. Most importantly, Moscow will not deploy additional forces in the Russian Far East, or direct its missiles on elements of the THADD system, or otherwise complicate relations with Seoul, said Viktor Murakhovsky, editor in chief of the Arsenal Otechestva (Arsenal of the Fatherland) magazine. "The THAAD system in South Korea is not a strategic but rather a tactical one, and it does not pose a direct threat to Russia because our strike forces are deployed at a distance that considerably exceeds its capability," said Murakhovsky. ``THAAD is more of a headache for China because its strategic nuclear forces still are rather limited in terms of their number and capabilities." Murakhovsky added that the Chinese leadership will talk and haggle with the U.S. on this issue, and the development of a joint missile defense concept with Russia is a backup plan. "Regarding North Korea, Moscow will push for political and diplomatic rather than military solutions," said Murakhovsky. "We’ll try to resume six-way talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear program with the participation of the world’s leading powers." Read more: How could Russian-NATO relations break down in 2017?
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Old white dons ‘unable to teach black students.’ Black students’ progress is being stalled by university tutors who are “60-year-old white men” and “potentially racist”, according to students at the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) in London. In a report called Degrees of Racism, the student union demands that […]
The U.S. Military Made a Big Mistake When It Came to Russia's Cold War Navy (And Might Repeat It with China)
Michael Peck Security, Asia It seems history could very well rhyme after all. Back in the 1980s, a war with the Soviet Union seemed like a naval nightmare. Fiction writers like Tom Clancy and John Hackett painted a future where Western navies faced hordes of Red bombers, cruise missiles, submarines and surface warships. Naturally, in these novels the Good Guys won, but only at tremendous cost. In hindsight, some of this looks silly. We know now—and some suspected back then—that the Soviet Navy was undercut by major deficiencies in technology and training. It was no paper tiger, but neither was it some aquatic beast that would have devoured Western fleets. Are we now making the same mistake with China? When we read reports of a vast expansion in China’s navy, or of alleged Chinese superweapons like carrier-killer ballistic missiles, are we exaggerating the threat? First, it’s important to realize that shock is not conducive to rational thinking. From 1917 through the early 1960s, the Soviet Navy was not a serious threat to the West. It was a large but limited fleet, primarily oriented toward coastal defense, with lots of small missile boats, torpedo boats and diesel submarines. It was the massive Red Army that provided the muscle behind Moscow’s military might. By the late 1960s, under the leadership of Adm. Sergei Gorshkov, the Soviet Navy turned hard about. Instead of mere coastal defense, Moscow began building a blue-water navy that comprised major surface combatants such as heavily armed cruisers and destroyers, nuclear attack submarines, and—horrors!—even aircraft carriers, the ultimate symbol of seapower in Western eyes. Even if the Soviets couldn’t defeat the U.S. and allied navies in an absolute sense, perhaps they could sink the troop convoys ferrying U.S. reinforcements across the Atlantic and thus allow the Red Army to overrun Europe, or destroy the oil tankers that kept Western economies running. However, it turns out that the Soviet Navy had severe problems. Ships were not mechanically reliable, nor even safe (“How do you know a Soviet submarine sailor? He glows in the dark”). Morale was not particularly high, as evidenced by that Soviet destroyer that tried to defect to the West in 1975. Read full article
Loneliness is a state of mind – so stop thinking in those terms and just be yourselves. Mariella advises two teens looking for friendship and loveDilemma 1 I’m 19 and have always had a difficult time making friends. I make small talk with people in class, but it never goes anywhere from there. I’m a good person and I’ve been told that I’m pretty good looking. Why wouldn’t people want to be my friend? I have been feeling so alone in this world.Dilemma 2 I’m 18 and off to college. I’m quite well off, have a loving family and all the gadgets I could possibly want, but I am deeply unhappy. I feel very lonely, which I know is common at this age. I want a romantic relationship, but I’ve been single all my life, not through lack of trying. I’ve asked girls out on dates, yet they have all turned me down. I’ve bought them gifts, and generally acted like a true gent but it’s not enough, apparently. I’m not one of those guys who just wants sex and nothing else. I want to be loved and cherished. I’m doing a very male-orientated course and I fear my existing opportunities to interact with young women will disappear. Any advice? Continue reading...
The seven candidates competing to run the Democratic National Committee want to make one thing clear: the race for chairman isn't a repeat of the Hillary Clinton vs. Bernie Sanders primary.In their first appearance on stage together — the first of four regional forums hosted by the DNC — the candidates took pains Saturday in Phoenix to explain that the contentious Democratic presidential primary is behind them and no one viewed the chairman's race as a proxy war for the future of the party."You know, people ask me, ‘are you a Clinton Democrat or a Bernie Democrat. Guys, I grew up in South Carolina and all I’ve ever been is a Democrat," said South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison."I am not interested in relitigating the 2016 primary," said South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg. "We’ve all been through that. As was said before Donald J. Trump will be president of the United States in a week. We don’t have time to relitigate 2016."Rep. Keith Ellison, who is backed by Sanders in the chair race, pointed that he supported both the Vermont senator and then Clinton in the 2016 election. The Minnesota congressman then attacked President-elect Donald Trump, noting that the party needs to be strong again "so we can shatter that glass ceiling that Hillary Clinton was banging on."Ellison had been the first candidate to jump into the race after the election, and quickly rolled out a host of prominent Democratic supporters as part of an effort to clear the field. But the opposite occurred, and all seven candidates were stage Saturday, including Labor Secretary Tom Perez, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley, Idaho Democratic Party Executive Director Sally Boynton Brown, and Fox News analyst Jehmu Greene.Perez, Ellison's highest profile rival, has rolled out a slate of governors supporting him to counter the national Democrats backing Ellison: Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe among them. He's also won support of prominent state party chairs like Texas Chairman Giberto Hinojosa. But as a former top Clinton surrogate and one of her vice presidential prospects, he's been viewed by some Democrats as a more establishment-oriented candidate compared to Ellison, who is the preferred candidate of the Sanders wing."I don't think Perez will ever win their trust or support," said Oklahoma Democratic Party chairman Mark Hammons, referring to Sanders supporters."And that's not a knock on him, it is he's an establishment guy which is a bad thing in today's climate," said Hammons, who backs Ellison. "Not necessarily a bad thing of working your way up, but in today's climate you don't want to be an establishment guy and one of Hillary's problems is she was always going to be an establishment candidate."The regional forum was the first of four official gatherings scheduled ahead of the late February vote for chairman, when the 447-member voting body will pick the next DNC leaders. As the kickoff event and the first chance DNC voting members got to compare the candidates side-by-side, it was an opportunity for all the candidates to showcase their views, said Jeff Weaver, the former campaign manager for Sanders and the president of the Our Revolution outside group."Instead of people just calling on the phone and talking to this one and that one and lining up support, this is a very public way and in that way brings the process more out into the open," said Weaver, whose group supports Ellison.While all the candidates have been lining up supporters and reaching out to DNC members directly to ask for their votes, undecided members said the forums would play a key role in helping them make a final decision."I want to hear these people speak. I don't know them personally. I want to hear them speak. I want to hear how they present themselves, how they project our values. How they express that, how they come across because that coming across is a very important aspect of that position," said Washington state DNC committeewoman Nancy Monacelli, who is undecided. "I want someone who speaks well, if someone who uses bad grammar, they're off my list."
Here is one matter, at least, in which the Swiss refuse to be neutral.
TEXAS PUBLIC POLICY FOUNDATION: I spent the Wednesday, Thursday and today at the Texas Public Policy…
TEXAS PUBLIC POLICY FOUNDATION: I spent the Wednesday, Thursday and today at the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s 2017 Texas Legislature policy orientation conference. Today I heard an excellent panel discussion on water resource development. The conference included a panel discussion featuring Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. The conference was held in Austin, TX.
UH-HUH: State Dept. Says It’s Going to Paris Conference to Defend Israel. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Thursday that Secretary of State John Kerry is going to this weekend’s Middle East peace conference in Paris to defend Israel, despite the Obama administration allowing a resolution condemning Israeli settlements to pass through the United Nations […]
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Habibah, a Nigerian lesbian, was forced by her family to marry a man, who raped her on their wedding night, while Somadina was told she would die early because she calls herself queer. Their experiences are documented in a new report by the Bisi Alimi Foundation, which promotes social acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Nigerians. “The spectrum of hatred and discrimination against LGBT people is very wide in Nigeria, and forms part of deep-rooted cultural attitudes,” said Bisi Alimi, director and founder of the foundation. The 41-year-old was the first Nigerian to openly declare his sexuality on national television, coming out in 2004. Facing threats to his life thereafter, he moved to Britain where he now lives with his husband. The foundation surveyed almost 450 LGBT Nigerians, all of them aged over 18 and either still living in Nigeria or who had left the largely conservative country within the past decade. Violence and harassment is widespread in Nigeria where homosexuals can be imprisoned for up to 14 years for expressing their sexual orientation, according to the report, which is due out on Friday. Some 55 percent of respondents said they had been physically attacked or threatened with violence at home or work in the past decade, while 54 percent had experienced threats and harassment online. The survey found 71 percent of respondents believed this abuse was due to their gender identity or sexuality. Violence is widespread but victims often do not report it because of police discrimination, the report said. Stigma, family rejection, community exclusion and isolation are also common, adding to the mental stress of hiding their sexual orientation, the report found. With the highest HIV prevalence rate of any country in West and Central Africa, discrimination against gays in healthcare services can have serious consequences, the report said. Twelve percent of respondents said they were told by doctors or nurses their health problems were their own fault, and another 12 percent reported experiencing verbal abuse from doctors or nurses. FAR-REACHING LAW Nigerians involved in a gay marriage or civil union face imprisonment for up to 14 years under a law introduced in 2014. Named the “Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act,” it purports to legislate against people of the same sex marrying but it has far wider reaching implications, said Alimi. Dubbed “Jail the Gays” in the media, the law stipulates that anyone who registers, operates or takes part in gay organizations, or makes a public show of a same-sex relationship, will be punished with up to 10 years in prison. The implementation of the law prompted a crackdown on gays and increased violence despite international condemnation. While previous legislation already criminalized same-sex conduct, the 2014 law officially authorizes abuses against LGBT people, effectively making a bad situation worse, a report by Human Rights Watch said in October 2016. “When this law came into force, it opened a door of hate and legalized prejudice,” Alimi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “The main issue for LGBT people in Nigeria is not same-sex marriage - but being able to live a life free from rejection, assault and abuse.” Alimi said he hoped to change public perceptions by providing facts about the life of LGBT people in Nigeria. “There has never been data on homophobia in Nigeria,” he said. “We hope that by building a database that documents the discrimination, we can bring about change and galvanize a change in attitudes.” (Reporting by Astrid Zweynert; Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories) -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Rep. Mike Quigley (IL-05), who penned the following piece, serves as Vice-Chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus. This past Tuesday, in Washington D.C., a 21 year old man named Jay Franzone donated blood. On the surface, this act seems common, almost routine, especially as we observe National Blood Donor Month. Americans donate blood every day—on high school and college campuses during blood drives, in workplaces after a coworker falls ill, and in hospitals as loved ones prepare for surgery. What makes this scenario unique is the fact that Jay is gay, or as a blood bank would classify him, MSM—a man who has sex with men. And because of this, he is required to abstain from sex for 12 months in order to qualify as a healthy blood donor. To his credit, Jay did just that—refrained from sexual contact of any kind for an entire year—in order to donate blood, partially as an act of protest but also in an attempt to raise awareness on a discriminatory policy that many Americans do not know exists. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for regulating blood donor safety and produces best practices guidelines that are used at all credible blood banks. The FDA first began prohibiting gay and bisexual men from donating blood in the early 1980’s, at the height of the AIDS crisis, when the risk from blood transfusion was just beginning to be understood. In the decades to follow, the “lifetime ban” was left largely unchanged. Finally, in 2015, the FDA rolled back the lifetime ban on MSM to the current 12-month deferral policy. Despite the perceived progress this policy change made, time-based deferrals are arbitrary and unsupported by science. Since the 1980’s, we have dramatically improved our medical and scientific understanding of HIV/AIDS and are regularly improving our screening and detection capabilities. Technology has aided in serious advancements so that HIV detection tests now have near perfect results. And those tests can detect HIV in the blood an average of nine to 11 days post-infection. Last year’s attack at Pulse Nightclub highlighted the cruel irony of the blood ban when members of the LGBT community—the very community targeted by hate and terror that night—were unable to donate blood to the victims in Orlando. The LGBT community was understandably eager to stand up and help the response effort. During times of national tragedy—mass shootings, natural disasters or an accident – giving blood is a common and necessary expression of service and support. It’s a simple way for ordinary Americans to show solidarity, patriotism and most importantly, provide life saving resources to those in need. I first became passionate about this issue when I came to Congress in 2009, and in 2010 I led a letter with then Senator John Kerry, asking the Commissioner of the FDA to reconsider their lifetime ban. Since then, my office has been relentless in working with and calling on FDA and Department of Health & Human Services leaders to update the blood donor questionnaire, conduct the necessary scientific studies, and ultimately move to a risk-based assessment policy. After the shooting in Orlando, I was proud to have 115 of my House colleagues—including 6 Republicans—join me in sending a letter to Commissioner Robert M. Califf calling on the FDA to change, once and for all, its outdated deferral policy. As a heterosexual man, I can only imagine how frustrating it is given the arbitrary nature of both the 12-month timeframe as well as the fact that other groups with similar risk factors are not barred from donating blood, either explicitly by policy or in practice It’s long past due that the FDA implements an individual risk-based screening process that is tied directly to risky behavior and not sexual orientation alone. Risk based assessment has been successfully implemented in Spain and Italy, with other countries likely to soon follow suit. There is no doubt that blood must be screened in order to keep Americans safe and healthy and I am committed to working with the FDA to ensure a safe, secure blood supply, across the board. However, public policy must always be rooted in the facts, not fear. We have near perfect technology that could render time-based deferral periods obsolete and we should use that technology for good. Not only can we craft a more inclusive policy, but we can increase blood safety for everyone. It’s a win-win. Jay’s story reminds us that change comes as a result of small steps, taken by passionate individual citizens. Congress has a lot to learn from Americans like Jay and we all have a responsibility to break down barriers and reduce the stigmas that divide us. After all, blood is blood, gay or straight. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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