Blogs from Michael_Novakhov (21 sites)
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The FBI News Review
Blogs from Michael_Novakhov (21 sites)
По его словам, в одном месте возгорание произошло из-за мусора, а в другом месте …
Газета.Ru – Новости часа
Саакашвили считает, что «Порошенко проиграл не только сегодня». При этом экс-глава Одесской области попросил не рассматривать его слова, как признание победы Зеленского на дебатах. Саакашвили отметил, что «Порошенко сам себя разгромил», передает РИА «Новости» со ссылкой на «Макси-ТВ».
Нынешний президент Украины подчеркивал, что «люди Зеленского не знают», сказал Саакашвили.
«Зато они очень хорошо знают Петра Порошенко и когда он себя сравнивает с Черчиллем – Черчилль, наверное, в гробу переворачивается», – заявил он.
Саакашвили предполагает, что после второго тура выборов «система Порошенко» попробует «создать хаос» на Украине.
Кроме того, бывший глава Одесской области выразил готовность консультировать новые украинские власти, если тем понадобится его помощь.
Саакашвили обещал приехать в Киев, который «считает своим домом». Он заявил, что «хочет помочь Украине встать на ноги».
Напомним, дебаты прошли на НСК «Олимпийский».
Lenta.ru : Новости
Russian gun-activist pleaded guilty in plan to gain access to the NRA, U.S. conservative circles.
“trump russian money” – Google News
1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)
The Trump Investigations Report – Review Of News And Opinions
Just this week, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld threw his hat in the ring to challenge Donald Trump for the 2020 Republican nomination for president, while calling out Trump’s Attorney General William Barr for pandering to the pro-Trump conspiracy theorists. During his testimony before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee last week, Barr stated, “I think spying did occur. But the question is whether it was adequately predicated, and I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore that.”
While most sane people quickly called out Barr for his inappropriate use of debunked conspiracy theories, Barr’s antics were sure to make Trump happy. Bill Weld made the case that the investigation into Trump’s campaign, given the vast evidence of wrongdoing, was appropriate. Weld said that “When an agency opens an investigation, it may be a lot of things, it may be bad news for the target. But it’s not spying. It’s just opening an investigation.”
Despite Weld being a relatively little known political figure on the national stage, his decision to primary Trump is rather substantial. Given the history of incumbent presidents being primaried during their reelection campaign, this does not bode well for Trump. Going back to just after Richard Nixon resigned the presidency, no incumbent president has ever won reelection following a legitimate primary challenge.
When Gerald Ford took over after Nixon’s resignation, he was later primaried by Ronald Reagan. While Ford would succeed in winning the Republican nomination, he would go on to lose in the general election to Jimmy Carter. Just four years later, Ted Kennedy attempted to win the Democratic nomination in a challenge to Carter. Just like the previous election, the sitting president won the primary but lost the presidential election. The same can be said about the 1992 election when George H.W. Bush won the primary against Pat Buchanan but lost to Bill Clinton.
While an incumbent president has not faced a real primary challenge in decades, the history appears to be straightforward. It would seem that presidents are only challenged by their own party when there are reasons to doubt their ability to be reelected. Weld’s decision to go up against Trump for the 2020 Republican nomination only benefits the Democratic candidates going into the most important presidential election of our lifetime.
1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)
The Trump Investigations Report – Review Of News And Opinions
The FBI News Review: “fbi criticism” – Google News: A Darker Portrait Emerges of Trump’s Attacks on the Justice Department – The New York Times dlvr.it/R38yzn
mikenov on Twitter
The Trump Investigations Report – Review Of News And Opinions
By Egle Murauskaite*
(FPRI) — In the Baltics, the first half of 2019 is election time: for Estonia, it’s a new parliament, for Latvia and Lithuania, it’s new presidents; and then all three countries will vote for their new representatives to the European Parliament. Given widespread public discontent in the region, and in much of Europe, over the lack of improvements in living standards and waning enthusiasm for European integration, is change coming to the Baltics, or are these political power plays a shadow theater?
In March, the liberal opposition Reform Party won
parliamentary elections in Estonia, defeating the governing Centre
Party. Ongoing efforts to form a governing coalition may now lead the
increasingly far-right EKRE Party to not only gain parliamentary power but also ministerial positions. In the June presidential election in Latvia, the parliamentary vote on the candidates will be made open for the first
time—with some hoping for greater transparency, while others fear
greater constituent pressure to select a populist. Against this
backdrop, Lithuanians will head to the polls to elect a new president on
May 12, and will also cast a vote in a referendum on whether to allow Lithuanians to hold dual citizenship.
The Lithuanian presidential campaign
started in January 2019, although the official list of nine candidates
was not finalized until mid-April. Vocal and charismatic economist Aušra
Maldeikienė withdrew her candidacy during this period, opting to run
for the European Parliament instead. It is worth noting that two other
candidates, Naglis Puteikis and Valentinas Mazuronis, neither a top
contender, will run in both Lithuania’s presidential election on May 12
and in the European Parliament election on May 26.
The current leading presidential
candidate in traditional opinion polls is Gitanas Nausėda, a 54-year-old
chief economist at SEB bank with widespread name recognition from a
decade of evening news appearances. Nausėda has positioned himself as a
center-right candidate with an emphasis on national identity. Projecting
a steady and comforting image, he avoids taking firm positions,
speaking largely in platitudes, and seemingly affirming Lithuania’s
present foreign policies. Critics of the economist argue that he
represents the interests of big businesses. Indeed, one of Nausėda’s
more curious proposals has been to expand Lithuania’s trade with
China—he expressed having no reservations about the potential security
implications, or concerns about China’s human rights violations. Another
of Nausėda’s suggestions is to create a closer cooperation forum
between Scandinavia, the Baltics, and the United Kingdom in order to
increase Lithuania’s political weight on the world stage.
Leading most social media and online
polls is Ingrida Šimonytė, a 44-year-old former Finance Minister
supported by the Christian Democratic Party. Šimonytė appeals to a
similar electorate as Nausėda. She has positioned herself as pragmatic,
straight-speaking, and good humored, winning a strong following among
younger urban intellectuals. Šimonytė’s professed admiration for
Jaroslav Hašek’s novel The Good Soldier Švejk—popular
during the Soviet era for its satire on bureaucratic inefficiencies—has
also endeared her to many senior urban voters. Šimonytė swiftly rose to
prominence: she was the first presidential candidate to collect the
necessary signatures, and did so virtually overnight. Critics lambaste
her decision as the Finance Minister not to apply for an IMF loan during
the global financial crisis and critique the other austerity measures
implemented by the Christian Democrat government at the time. Šimonytė
appears to be handling the criticism well, patiently explaining her
logic in unapologetic, accessible terms. Gender politics may
disadvantage Šimonytė though: some voters question whether they want
another female president, following current President Dalia
Grybauskaitė’s two terms.
Saulius Skvernelis, a 48-year-old former
police officer and current Prime Minister from the ruling Peasant
Greens party, has considerable popularity in rural areas. He appeals to
an electorate longing for a firm hand in politics. On the foreign policy
front, however, Skvernelis has little international experience and a
poor command of English. He has sparked controversy by contradicting
official Lithuanian policy in suggesting that he is willing to seek
dialogue with Russia and that the Lithuanian embassy in Tel Aviv could
be moved to Jerusalem. Critics also allege that Skvernelis has misused
his office publicity and funds for campaign purposes. Despite attracting
several young experts to the current cabinet, Skvernelis seems to take
little note of their suggestions. His latest proposal for Lithuania to
fund the conversion of Belarus’ Astravo power plant from nuclear power
to natural gas is perhaps the latest example of questionable policy
Arvydas Juozaitis, a 62-year-old author
and one of the leaders of the 1988-89 Sąjūdis independence movement,
rounds off the list of competitive candidates. Juozaitis is respected
for his past political achievements and his philosophic writings. He
polls in third to fourth place among older rural voters, and has
repeatedly denounced his insufficient coverage as a sign of favoritism.
Although the primary domain of Lithuania’s presidential power is foreign
policy, Juozaitis’ campaign focuses on domestic issues. His proposals
include introducing mandatory military training to high schools, along
with other education reforms. On foreign policy, Juozaitis has mused on a
potential union with Latvia.
Overall, most frontrunners have been
cautious not to stray from the current Lithuanian foreign policy. They
support greater defense funding, express guarded skepticism about closer
EU integration, and recognize the need to amend domestic social
security policy. No candidate appears poised to attract enough votes to
win the first round on May 12. A runoff, where the top two vote-getters
in the first round face each other, will likely occur between Saulius
Skvernelis and either Ingrida Šimonytė or Gitanas Nausėda, who will
likely split the votes of their target electorate. Most analysts
describe the candidates’ public positions as bland and anodyne. If the
president-elect is to live by his or her campaign promises, then the
next four years would hardly bring major foreign policy changes for
Lithuania—barring any candidate efforts to purposefully differentiate
themselves during the runoff. Nevertheless, the personalities of the
three frontrunners differ dramatically: a dynamic economist explaining
things in a low pitch vs. a tall, high-pitched economist squirming out
of potentially uncomfortable positions vs. a rotund policeman baldly
pushing through. When it comes to the regular long-term negotiations
with foreign dignitaries or resolving the latest crises, it could make a
big difference how and how much they are able to make Lithuania’s voice
*About the author: Egle E. Murauskaite co-runs a monthly podcast in Lithuanian, NYLA Update, discussing the global trends and their echoes in the Baltic region. The May 7, 2019 episode will be a special edition covering Lithuania’s upcoming presidential election.
Source: This article was published by FPRI
Named after the dark stripes that form inside potatoes after they are
cut and fried, zebra chip disease is a potentially devastating
affliction that can result in yield losses up to 100% for farmers.
The disease, caused by the bacterium ‘Candidatus Liberibacter
solanacearum,’ has been economically damaging commercial crops,
including potato, tomato, and pepper, in the central and western United
States, Mexico, Central America, and New Zealand since the early 2000s.
In a three-year period in the mid-2000s, chemical management of the
disease in Texas cost an estimated $25.86 million. The Pacific Northwest
spends an estimated $11 million a year on chemical management.
“The economic impact of zebra chip disease on the U.S. potato industry cannot be taken lightly,” write K. D. Swisher Grimm and S. F. Garczynski, authors of “Identification of a New Haplotype of ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ in Solanum tuberosum,” an article in Plant Disease.
Swisher Grimm and Garczynski received potato tubers from the Klamath
Basin in Oregon that were suspected of being infected with the casual
bacteria of zebra chip disease. When they analyzed the tubers, they
confirmed the presence of the pathogen but did not identify the sample
as one of the six known varieties (haplotypes).
Prior to this discovery, “only haplotypes A and B were known to
cause zebra chip symptoms in potato,” explains Swisher. This research
identified a new haplotype, designated haplotype F, as the third
haplotype of the bacterium that infects potatoes in the United States.
There is more to learn about haplotype F–research must be done to
determine host range and identify the insect that transmits this
pathogen. As this is the first time zebra chip disease has been
identified in the Klamath Basin, it is important to identify the
dynamics and geographic overlaps of haplotypes A, B, and F. In-depth
surveys are necessary to determine the potential impact of the novel
haplotype on the potato industry of Southwestern Oregon.
Nine years ago –April 20, 2010–crude oil began leaking from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig into the Gulf of Mexico in what turned out to be the largest marine oil spill in history. A long-term study suggests the oil is still affecting the salt marshes of the Gulf Coast, and reveals the key role that marsh grasses play in the overall recovery of these important coastal wetlands.
Conducting the study was a multi-institutional research team funded
in part by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, a 10-year independent
program established through a $500 million financial commitment from
BP. The team began sampling soon after the spill was finally contained,
and continue their work today. Their most-recent article–in Estuaries and Coasts–reports on the first six and a half years of sampling post-spill.
Lead author on the study is John Fleeger, an emeritus professor at
LSU. Co-authors are Rita Riggio, Irving Mendelssohn, Qianxin Lin, and
Aixin Hou of LSU; David Johnson of William & Mary’s Virginia
Institute of Marine Science; Donald Deis of Atkins North America; Kevin
Carman of the University of Nevada-Reno; Sean Graham of Nicholls State
University; and Scott Zengel of Research Planning, Inc.
Johnson, an assistant professor at VIMS and expert in salt marsh
invertebrates, says “Our study highlights the crucial role that plants
play in the recovery of important links in the Gulf of Mexico’s coastal
food web.” Those links ultimately connect to the fish and shellfish that
support the region’s economy and culture.
Two plants dominate healthy Gulf Coast salt marshes–the smooth
cordgrass Spartina alterniflora and the black needlerush Juncus
roemerianus. Also abundant on the marsh surface are single-celled,
plant-like organisms that scientists collectively refer to as benthic
microalgae, while a suite of small invertebrates–amphipods, copepods,
nematodes, snails, worms, and others–swim, hop, and crawl among the
grass blades or burrow in the underlying root zone.
The team studied these organisms by measuring their abundance and
biomass in heavily oiled, moderately oiled, and oil-free areas of
Louisiana’s Barataria Bay, using both surface plots and shallow cores.
Sampling took place at roughly 6-month intervals between 2011 and 2016.
The researchers’ early sampling showed that nearly all the plants in
heavily oiled areas died, while benthic microalgae and burrowing
invertebrates suffered significant reductions. Their later sampling
showed that marsh recovery was led by benthic microalgae and
Spartina–which began to show significant above-ground growth within two
to three years.
Importantly, it was only after Spartina started its comeback that
recovery of the invertebrate community began in earnest. “Plants are the
foundation of salt marshes,” explains Johnson. “Marsh grasses
facilitate colonization by burrowing invertebrates; fuel the food web,
provide animal habitat, bind the soil, and slow water flow. Without
plants there is no marsh, and there is no marsh recovery following a
spill without plants leading the way.”
If you plant it, they will come
The team’s findings have important implications for responding to
any future spills. Fleeger says “our findings indicate that mitigation
strategies for any future spills should include the planting of
foundation species such as Spartina.”
Mendelssohn, a VIMS alumnus (M.A. ’73), says that foundation species
“enhance recovery by providing habitat and reducing sediment erosion.”
Over the longer term, he says, “plant growth enhances recovery by
improving soil quality. Plants generate organic matter that accumulates
belowground, while their roots and rhizomes release oxygen, bind
sediments, and increase sediment volume. Breakdown of plant tissues also
provides nutrients that further stimulate plant growth and beneficial
microbial processes in the marsh.”
A slow road to full recovery
Tempering the promise of marsh recovery via planting of grasses
such as Spartina is the team’s discovery that heavily oiled marsh sites
remained less healthy than moderately oiled and oil-free sites more than
6 years after the Deepwater Horizon spill. Heavily oiled sites still
had elevated concentrations of oil and its breakdown products, and
showed slower growth of black needlerush, lower production of plant
detritus and below-ground organic matter, and altered soil density.
Populations of worms, juvenile snails, and other small invertebrates had
also failed to fully recover.
Particularly troubling was the continued rarity of the polychaete
worm Manayunkia aestuarina. One of the most abundant single species in
the invertebrate community, this tube dweller is important to the health
of marsh sediments, and plays a key role in the marsh food web as a
major prey item for crabs, shrimp, and fish. “The near absence of this
species could indicate significant alteration of ecological function at
heavily oiled sites,” says Johnson.
Also troubling is that projecting the observed pace of mash recovery
into the future suggests that complete recovery at moderately and
heavily oiled sites will likely take much longer than a decade. This is
slower than reported in many previous studies of oil spills and their
impacts on the marsh community.
“Previous work shows that oil spills in salt marshes can impact
bottom-dwelling invertebrates for more than four decades,” says Fleeger.
“Long-term exposure to oil and its breakdown products may also decrease
the sensitivity and resilience of these organisms to future spills,” he
On a brighter note, a previous study by Johnson and colleagues
suggests that fertilization of Spartina plantings can enhance growth of
both its stems and roots, thus aiding marsh recovery in the long term.
“We’re starting to see the salt marsh in the Gulf of Mexico rebound,”
says Johnson, “but it will likely be a decade or more before we see
Julian Assange continues to ripple and roam as a cipher through the political and media scape of the world. Detained in Belmarsh maximum security prison, the sort of stately abode only reserved for the most dangerous of criminals, many with indeterminate sentences, he electrifies and concerns.
The US political classes continue to simmer with an obsession that has gone feral. Some moderation can be found in the efforts of Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky), who is seeking a bartering solution. “I think he should be given immunity from prosecution in exchange for coming to the United States and testifying.” The question of causing harm or otherwise was less significant than what Assange had to offer in terms of information “probably pertinent to the hacking of the Democratic emails”.
It is precisely the issue of harm that obsessives on the Hill fantasize about. Their rage is that of Caliban before the mirror, and rather than taking issue with US foreign policy, see Assange as an imitator. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, speaks of WikiLeaks and its “destructive role by directly interfering in democratic elections and referendums around the world, most troubling of which is WikiLeaks’ collaboration with Russia to directly interfere in the United States presidential election in 2016.”
But Assange’s formalised incarceration has enabled some scrutiny to be cast over the indictment in question. Dell Cameron from Gizmodo is constructively quizzical, suggesting a few holes in the US case against the publisher. “Assange indicated that he had been trying to crack the password by stating that he had ‘no luck so far’.” This raises two questions: Did he even venture to do so? If so, can that very fact be proven?
Cameron goes on to do an admirable job of demonstrating how much of a journalist Assange actually was in engaging Chelsea Manning. Far from being a freak cavalier with convention, the conduct squared with the more risqué tradition of investigative reporting. The “acquisition and transmission of classified information” is standard bread and butter stuff for the fourth estate. “If you have material you believe is newsworthy, please visit our SecureDrop page to learn more about how to safely transmit it to Gizmodo. We’d be happy to receive it.”
Others are not so confident, and continue to struggle with the label of Assange as journalist, nail bitten that he has been awarded a title that somehow treads on holy ground. Only some will be admitted; the rest can be dismissed and banged up, deemed the unwashed.
One is Peter Greste, a particularly troublesome case given the work he did for Al Jazeera that landed him, for a time, in an Egyptian prison. “As someone who has been imprisoned by a foreign government for publishing material that it didn’t like, I have a certain sympathy with Assange. But my support stops there.”
As happens with practitioners, his admission to the world of establishment academe softens both cortex and conviction. From the summit of UNESCO chair in journalism and communication at the University of Queensland, he lords: “To be clear, Julian Assange is not a journalist, and WikiLeaks is not a news organisation. There is an argument to be had about the libertarian ideal of radical transparency that underpins its ethos but that is a separate issue altogether from press freedom.”
Greste falls for the prosecution effort to play the hacker card, tagged to conspiracy. This stands to reason: the organisation and its publisher are to be refused entry into the pantheon of journalism. Perhaps this stands to reason, given how WikiLeaks has demonstrated with devastating effect that the journalist, as a term, has been rented into vacuity. Greste also tut tuts Assange for not “sorting through the hundreds of thousands of files to seek out the most important or relevant and protect the innocent”. Again, that hoary old chestnut, ignoring the inordinate lengths that WikiLeaks has gone to protect those who have, in fact, disclosed the secrets while blowing the cover on the less savoury elements of power.
As one goes through Greste’s views, a feeling of engaging a dinosaur awaiting the museum comes through. He is incapable of understanding the digital upending that WikiLeaks has encouraged. The “digital revolution has confused the definitions of what journalism is and its role in a democracy.” In attempting to treat Assange and the outfit as exceptional, he dangerously endorses wide ranging efforts that can just as easily justify the incarceration and punishment of journalists of all shades. Greste can confidently split hairs.
The feeble nonsense that passes for intellectual comment on the fourth estate can be gathered in the following remark from journalist hacks turned academic hacks (one, Kathy Kiely, holds the Lee Hills Chair of Free Press Studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia, which must be a source of much mirth): “But granting Assange journalist status is beyond problematic: It’s likely to draw more attacks on press freedom such as the Georgia lawmakers’ thinly disguised attempt to sanction and ostracize journalists whose work they don’t like.”
Too hard a basket, is the Assange case. Don’t call him a journalist, because doing so might incite retribution, which is the sort of twisted rationale produced by pro-establishment airings. The only standard retribution that should follow in such cases is a swift removal of their “chairs” in journalism, upon which they have become very firmly affixed too. The moulded establishment has a habit of doing away with independence, and Assange’s seizure has merely reaffirmed it.
By Dr Subhash Kapila
The Indian Air Force spectacular and dramatic deep penetration
strikes on Pakistan terror camps at Balakot on February 26 2019 by
India’s valiant ‘Air Warriors’ enabled by bold & decisive leadership
of PM Modi opens new imperatives for fast tracking augmentation of
Indian Air Force ‘Strike Power’ in the unfolding geopolitical
In this unfolding geopolitical threatening environment being
generated by the solidifying China-Pakistan Axis no scope exists for
India to afford to base its Indian Air Force structuring and Fighter
Planes inventory only on the Pakistan Threat. The Indian Air Force must
more importantly focus on dedicated squadrons and complement fighter
planes strengths for dealing with both the China Threat and the Pakistan
The Indian Air Force has suffered immeasurably in the period 2004-14
in terms of political neglect and allocation of financial resources to
move towards the above inescapable imperative. Congress Party Prime
Ministers have ‘Shied Away’ from use of Indian Air Force strike power
with the exception of PM Lal Bahadur Shastri. India’s first PM Nehru did
not use the Indian Air Force strike power to stem the tide of Chinese
aggression in the 1962 War to avoid a humiliating military debacle.
China at that time had not developed effective aerial warfare
infrastructure in China Occupied Tibet.
Most glaringly, this was evident when in the wake of 26/11 Mumbai
dastardly attacks by Pakistan –based and Pakistan trained terrorists,
Congress PM Dr Man Mohan Singh shied away from ordering Indian Air Force
strikes. India’s image as the predominant Power in the Indian
Subcontinent stood severely dented.
In2019, Indian politics hit a new low when Opposition Congress
President in election year politics stooped to slander on Indian Air
Force Rafale Deal with France and in an unprecedented downslide in
Indian politics questioned not only the Indian Air Force Balakot Strikes
but also the assertions of Air Force Chief Dhanoa that air strikes
results could have been more spectacular and lethal had there been
Rafale Fighter Planes available, which should have been acquired in
Indian politicians must recognise that Services Chiefs of the Indian
Armed Forces do not make irresponsible statements as some Indian
politicians are prone to do. When the Indian Air Force Chief makes a
statement that the Indian Air Force imperatively needs Rafale Fighter
Planes he does so with full sense of responsibility. The Indian media
should also learn to be responsible not to air irresponsible politicking
by Indian politicians affecting India’s national security.
In 2019, India has to face the strategically worrying spectacle of
Indian Air Force number of Fighter Squadrons on a downslide compounded
further with growing obsolescence of its combat aircraft in comparison
to the growing fast track accretions in the Chinese Air Force and the
Pakistan Air Force.
India cannot expect its Indian Air Force to juggle around with
limited number of squadrons and an overaged Fighter Planes Fleet by
extended upgradations and improvisations. For long India’s past
political leadership accepted this sorry state of the Indian Air Force
as the ‘New Normal’ in utter disregard of the evolving military menace
of the China-Pakistan Axis.
When the incumbent Prime Minister took the first steps in2015 to
augment Indian Air Force strike power instead of bipartisan support
petty politicking overtook the imperatives of India’s national
security for questionable gains.
Suffering from gross political leadership indifference and
decisiveness and the ‘Speed Breakers’ of the Ministry of Defence
bureaucrats during the previous political regime 2004-14 the IAF today
as the world’s fourth largest Air Force stands at critical cross-roads
where the IAF’s professionally competent hierarchy and the exemplary
prowess of its Fighter Pilots may not be enough to deter India’s enemies
from their adventuristic impulses.
The IAF needs a minimum of 45-55 squadrons of Fighter Planes to meet
the dual threat posed to Indian sovereignty by the China-Pakistan Axis.
This strength is an inescapable imperative for India to meet the twin
challenges of securing India’s air-space and also having the operational
capabilities to launch offensive air-strikes against China and Pakistan
should aggressive operations be undertaken against India’s sovereignty.
In 2019, even the minimum squadron strength of 42 squadrons aimed as
the very minimum stands miserably reduced to about 31 squadrons as per
media reports. Dismally, the projections of IAF Fighter Squadron
strengths go down to 25 squadrons in the coming decade. This is based on
assessments of the phasing out of over-aged Fighter Planes and lack of
fast-tracked acquisition plans, the urgency of which has to sink-in
India’s Ministry of Defence bureaucracy tasked to highlight such
critical deficiencies to the political leadership.
India to get over this looming crisis of the Indian Air Force in
terms of its declining strike power needs emergency augmentation of its
combat Fighter Planes fleet by speedy “Off the Shelf” purchases.
Whatever is the cost? When survival or the national image of credible
power of the Indian Republic is at stake there exists no listening to or
politicisation of Indian Air Force needs by an irresponsible political
Political apathy and political indifference has been the striking
characteristic of India’s political leadership when it comes to IAF
critical acquisitions to enhance its strike capabilities. This needs to
be highlighted in more detail in relation to the unwarranted political
heat generated by the Congress President Rahul Gandhi on the fast-track
acquisition of 36 Rafale Fighter Planes from France to augment some
operational punch for the IAF.
The Rafale Fighter Planes deal with France has been in the offing
from the beginning of last decade. It should have materialised in the
period 2004-14 but it did not. No serious attention was paid by then
Congress Prime Minister and his Defence Ministers. Advancing reasons on
low pricing is no excuse for ignoring India’s national security.
This despite the criticality of IAF’s air-strike power limiting
India’s strike options in the wake of Mumbai 26/11 Pak-based terrorist
attacks denting India’s image as regional power without fangs to deter
its enemies. This inadequacy was even highlighted in the Pakistan media.
The 21st Century global conflict as that of the preceding
Century amply highlight that a nation’s Air Force plays a decisive role
in modern warfare obviating or limiting the use of ground forces. This
strategic reality has not hit India’s political leadership until after
2014 and is compounded by the Ministry of Deface bureaucracy neither
having the expertise nor the inclination to grasp the urgency of Indian
Ai Force ‘Strike Power’. This strike power is equally important for
deterrence of India’s enemies and also for hitting them hard should they
attempt to indulge in military adventure against India.
Even for nuclear deterrence the role of the Indian Air Force cannot
be minimised on the plea that the role gets supplanted by India’s
nuclear tipped missiles. The latter have their own application but
nuclear-capable strike power of the Indian Air Force has its own place.
And this is where the Rafale Fighter Planes acquisitions by India Air
Force become crucial besides other roles.
In last seven decades while India made spectacular strides in
developing missiles including ICBMs and ASAT missiles, past Governments
did not pay requisite focus on India achieving fast-track production
capabilities of indigenous Fighter Planes. The reason again has been
political apathy and sustained neglect. Political corruption or wrong
foreign policy choices may have been an underlying rationale for not
developing an indigenous Fighter Planes production capability.
Concluding, one needs to emphasise and re-emphasise that India cannot
achieve its aspirational goals of being the undisputed regional power
in the Indo Pacific and emerge as a credible Major Global Power unless
it has virile, hard-hitting Indian Air Force whose very existential
credibility provides India with tremendous political and military
coercive power. India needs to hit the ground running in urgent
augmentation of Indian Air Force strike power.
Dr Subhash Kapila is a Graduate of the Royal British Amy Staff
College Camberley U.K. With rich professional experience in Indian Army
(Brigadier) and diplomatic and official assignments in Japan, South
Korea, United Sates, United Kingdom and Bhutan. Can be contacted at <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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The FBI News Review
Blogs from Michael_Novakhov (21 sites)
By S. Chandrasekharan
On 6th April, Home Minister of Bangladesh, Asaduzzaman
Khan dropped a hint that the Government was willing to consider parole
for Khaleda Zia in the event of her applying for parole giving specific
reasons. That indicated that there had been some behind the scene
discussions between the Awami League and the BNP on Khaleda’s health and
the possibility of letting her go abroad for treatment.
Khaleda had been jail since Feb 8, 2018 and could not contest the
National elections in end 2018 because of her conviction and sentence
for five years in the Zia Orphanage Trust Case. She could not get bail
either in all the 34 cases she was involved in.
Khaleda had also been unwell for some time and was since moved to the
Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital for severe joint pain.
As recently as 20th, Mirza Fakhrul Alamgir alleged that
there was a plot to kill his party Chairperson Khaleda in prison by
denying her medical care. As before, he threatened a movement to
retrieve the country’s “destroyed democracy” but did not go beyond
This is a refreshing change from the post 2014 election scenario when
the party with the help of JEI cadres brought Dhaka to almost a
standstill. Roads were blocked and innocent passengers in the vehicles
were attacked. It is estimated that within a week of the elections over
150 people were killed. Many BNP leaders are still going in and out of
the courts in the criminal cases filed against them
It is said that key leaders of the BNP have been talking privately to
the Government leaders ever since the Home Minister’s statement and
media reports indicate that Khaleda will be going to London for
treatment. As a quid pro quo it is likely that six members of the BNP
who were elected to the parliament but had not taken oath may be taking
oath soon after the exit of Khaleda and join the Parliament.
Already two of the members of the opposition front had broken ranks
and taken oath to attend the parliament. Gonoforum lawmaker Mokabbir
Khan took oath in the first week of this month defying his party’s
decision. Elected from Sylhet, he was a presidium member of the
Gonoforum. Earlier, Sultan Manas of the Jatiya Oikya Front had also
broken ranks and took the oath to attend the Parliament. He was then
promptly expelled from the party in having defied the party’s directive.
With this gesture of granting parole and agreement between the two
parties for the BNP law makers to take the oath, it is expected that the
confrontational politics between the two that has bedeviled the country
will get a respite and perhaps pave the way for both parties to come to
terms with each other and engage in constructive politics in future.
Much would depend upon the Awami League which is assured of another term
of five years with an overwhelming majority.
The BNP though routed in the last elections has a substantial support
in the country and cannot be written off. Despite denials to the
contrary the BNP has still a working relationship with the JEI at all
levels. In fact in the last elections over 25 candidates of JEI while
masquerading as BNP candidates contested the elections but withdrew at
the last minute. There are many competent right thinking leaders among
the BNP who should now assert themselves and ensure that the umbilical
cord with the JEI is snapped!
There is also some rethinking particularly amongst the younger
elements within the JEI to come clean from their past, apologise to the
nation for their support to antiliberation forces in 1971 and thus come
out from the “underground” mentality the party had developed since
liberation. In an earlier paper I had made a reference to this and
suggested that the JEI should be encouraged to break from the past
It is the general view that the BNP made a big mistake in
boycotting the 2014 elections and in unleashing an unprecedented
violence against innocent civilians. The minority community suffered
Luckily, this time, the post election scenario was most peaceful and
it has helped Bangladesh to chalk up a good economic record.
The ADB in its most recent report of 4th April has said
that Bangladesh is on track to log in the fastest economic growth in the
Asia Pacific Region in the fiscal year of 2019-2010. The economy is
set to grow at 8 percent in the next financial year with robust private
consumption, increased public investment, strong export performance and
expansion in industries.
Of particular interest is that Bangladesh has surpassed Pakistan on
all parameters in poverty reduction, health, family planning, female
education, women’s empowerment and in child mortality. Per capita income
is placed at 1909 US $ as opposed to Pakistan’s 1700 US$! A creditable
By Kelsey Davenport and Alicia Sanders-Zakre*
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump have both said they are willing to meet for a third summit but are looking for certain conditions to be met ahead of any meeting. Kim said the United States must be more flexible and Trump is looking for North Korea to demonstrate its willingness to give up nuclear weapons.
U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton said in an April 17 interview
with Bloomberg that Washington is looking for a “real indication from
North Korea that they’ve made the strategic decision to give up nuclear
said Trump would be willing to participate in a third summit if he can
get a “real deal,” which Bolton described as a “big deal,” likely
referring to a more comprehensive agreement (see below for details).
Kim told the Supreme People’s Assembly April 12
that he is willing to try “one more time,” if Washington proposes a
third summit. However, the United States has to have the “right stance”
and “methodology,” Kim said, perhaps referring to North Korea’s
preference for a step-by-step approach and puts economic sanctions
relief on the table early in the process in exchange of actions toward
denuclearization. He called for the United States to “lay down
unilateral requirements and seek constructive solutions.”
said that the United States is miscalculating if it believes North
Korea can be pressured into submission. Kim gave the United States until
the end of the year to change its negotiating approach, or the
“prospects for solving a problem will be bleak and very dangerous.”
Korea’s Foreign Ministry has also expressed dissatisfaction with the
U.S. negotiating team and called for the removal of Secretary of State
Mike Pompeo as its head. In an April 18 statement,
Kwon Jong Gun, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of American
Affairs, said that “talks will become entangled” if Pompeo is involved
in future rounds of negotiations. He called Pompeo “reckless” and said
North Korea would prefer a “person who is more careful and mature in
communicating with us.”
are no indications that new talks between Washington and Pyongyang’s
negotiating teams are scheduled. The two sides have not met since the
abrupt ending of the Hanoi Summit February 28.
Korea announced April 18 that it had test-fired a new tactical guided
weapon, in its first publicly reported weapons test since the Hanoi
summit. It was not immediately clear what type of weapon the North
Koreans fired, but it does not appear to be a longer-range ballistic
missile. North Korea voluntarily announced a moratorium on long-range
ballistic missile tests in April 2018. The description suggests it could be a short-range missile.
move isn’t a break in North Korea’s self-imposed suspension of nuclear
and ICBM tests,” observes Suzanne DiMaggio, Senior Fellow with the
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It’s Kim Jong Un’s way of
demonstrating that his capabilities are more advanced today than they
were two summits ago,” she said in a tweet April 17.
weeks of speculation that Moscow and Pyongyang were planning a summit
between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kim, the Russian Foreign
Ministry announced April 18
that a meeting will take place in Russia “in the second half of April.”
The statement did not indicate where the meeting would take place, but a
recent visit by North Korean officials to Vladivostok suggests that it
might be a possible venue for the Putin-Kim summit.
Special Representative to North Korea Stephen Biegun traveled to Moscow
April 17-18 to discuss “efforts to advance the final, fully verified
denuclearization of North Korea,” according to the State Department.
During South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s visit to the White House April 11, Trump reiterated in comments to press
his preference for a “big deal” with North Korea to “get rid of the
nuclear weapons but kept the door open for “various small deals that
appeared to make little headway toward his reported goal to persuade
the United States to put limited economic sanctions relief for North
Korea on the table earlier in the negotiations.
said that he would support joint economic projects between the two
Koreas at the right time, but that now is not that time. Trump stated
that sanctions would “remain in place” until denuclearization is
complete, but he would not increase them at this time.
was reportedly open to easing sanctions at the Hanoi summit as long as
sanctions relief was reversible, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe
Son-hui said March 15. Choe blamed Pompeo and Bolton for thwarting a deal in Hanoi that included sanctions relief.
lack of progress in securing sanctions waivers for inter-Korean
projects during his meeting with Trump could hamper progress on that
process. North Korean state media slammed South Korea in early April for
“succumbing to the pressure of the U.S.” on the economic integration of
the two Koreas.
“This is an evasion of responsibility to implement the North-South declarations committed in front of the entire nation,” the commentary, by Kim Jun Dal written in the Uriminzokkiri, reads.
Moon met with Trump for less than two hours in Washington April 11. Before meeting with Trump, Moon met
with Vice President Mike Pence, Pompeo, and Bolton. Preceding the
Trump-Moon summit, Pompeo and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang met March 29.
Moon is also seeking a fourth summit with Kim. He said April 15
that it was time to “begin the preparations in earnest” for the next
meeting. He hopes to hold “detailed and substantive talks on how to
achieve further progress that goes beyond the previous two summits
between Chairman Kim and President Trump.”
told the Supreme People’s Assembly April 12 that South Korea should not
attempt to act as a mediator in U.S.-North Korean negotiations. He said
Moon should “subordinate everything to the improvement of North-South
Sanders-Zakre is research assistant, and Kelsey Davenport, director for
nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association.
Around 31,000 people
took part in the 22nd consecutive Saturday of Yellow Vests
demonstrations in France, April 13. A lot of clashes broke out in
Toulouse, a city that the informal organizers of the action declared the
“capital of protests” that day.
It is noteworthy that the unrest unfolded amid the President’s
signing of the so-called “anti-rioters” bill, which, among other things,
imposes a 15,000 euros fine for protesters wearing masks or covering
their faces during demonstrations, and also allows the police to search
the demonstrators’ bags.
Commenting on these events, the president of the French Republicans
party (LR) Laurent Wauquiez said that these measures “were taken too
late” and that was why the government could not take control of the
“Just yesterday, we saw the 22nd Saturday of Yellow Vests
demonstrations, and again there were hooligans, demonstrators who burnt
cars and attacked police officers. We saw that this law did not work,
because some of its provisions were censored by the Constitutional
Council. The President of the Republic himself weakened this law,
sending it to the Constitutional Council,” he told BFM TV Channel.
Analyzing the difficult situation
in the country, Alexander Tevdoy-Burmuli, Associate Professor at the
Department of Integration Processes, MGIMO, called the atmosphere in
France “quite tense.”
“It was also tense before the Yellow Vests protests, which became the
result of the negative attitude of a significant part of French society
to objectively ongoing processes of globalization, reduction of social
guarantees and increased social stratification. The elections of recent
years have demonstrated the public demand for a new policy and new
politicians. Yellow Vests just exacerbated the existing instability.
Ordinary citizens perceive the protest rather positively, although a
significant part of the conservative-minded people can condemn acts of
vandalism and have a negative attitude towards the participation of
migrants in riots. From this point of view, Yellow Vests actions can
actualize not only the grassroots request for social justice, but also
the request for a strong hand capable of restoring order,” said
Alexander Tevda-Burmuli told PenzaNews.
In his opinion, the Yellow Vests protests could pose a certain threat to the president and the French political system.
“Their demands look extremely eclectic, so it is difficult to
implement them. In addition, the movement is decentralized – the
authorities do not know who to negotiate with, and whether the
agreements reached will be obligatory for the vests in general.
Considering that the protest is directed against objectively ongoing
trends that are difficult to influence, a quick solution to the problem
simply does not exist and the popularity of the authorities and the
establishment, therefore, will decline further,” the expert said.
From his point of view, the French leader chose an “integrated approach” to solve the problem.
“He is trying to identify the leaders of the movement, who it is
possible to come to an agreement with, he is already engaged in a
dialogue with institutionalized representatives of civil society and
severely suppresses street riots. It is difficult to understand now if
this approach is effective. Those measures, which Macron announced at
the end of last year, were met with skepticism. But if he succeeds in
suppressing street riots with minimal damage to his reputation, his
rating as a strong politician can partly compensate for the lethargy of
social and political reforms,” Alexander Tevda-Burmuli said.
“Nevertheless, Macron still cannot become a fully acceptable figure
for the right-wing due to his pro-European orientation – these people
are rather Euroskeptics. In the medium term, there will hardly be any
serious perturbations, but due to the unresolved problems, the general
instability will gradually increase,” the analyst added.
In turn, John Laughland, director of studies at the Institute of
Democracy and Cooperation in France, noted that in connection with the
fire in the Paris Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Yellow Vests faded into
“Emmanuel Macron launched Great National Debate as a result of the
Yellow Vest Movement, which as far as I know is going to continue. The
president was expected to make a speech with the results of his Great
National Debate on Monday. But it was delayed because of the fire at
Notre Dame. So, because of this fire the issue of Yellow Vest Protests
is not in the news now,” the analyst said.
He also reminded that Catholic Easter will be celebrated the
following weekend. So it is unclear, whether there will be new
demonstrations on Saturday, he said.
“We do not know what Emmanuel Macron’s response is going to be. When
he makes his response then we’ll be able to judge whether or not the
protests are going to continue. But I expect that people will start
talking of something else soon: after Easter the European election
campaign starts. So my feeling is that the whole issue will be buried
under the topic of the elections,” John Laughland suggested.
Meanwhile, Paul Smith, Associate Professor of French and Francophone
Studies at School of Cultures, Language and Area Studies, University of
Nottingham, stressed that Yellow Vests movement has not gone away.
“More than 200 delegations from across France took part in a
conference at St Nazaire. But the movement is deeply divided, so while
Eric Drouet, Maxime Nicolle, Priscillia Ludosky and company steal the
limelight, others are trying to pull together their response to the
government. Neither side really knows what will happen next,” Paul Smith
However, in his opinion, Macron’s Great National Debate was a success.
“The numbers of local debates, interactions and so forth show that.
Macron persuaded the French that the ‘offer’ was a genuine one. But it
wasn’t without its risks and I found it revealing that Pascal Perrineau,
one of the panel of experts appointed to oversee the process, commented
that Macron had been too involved and, to some extent, blurred the
issues. Now, Macron has to turn the demands that have emerged from the
debate: as expected, fiscal reform, health care provision, the
environmental challenge are paramount, while the future of the EU and
immigration controls are less obvious. If he doesn’t, he will find that,
while the weekly demonstrations might have reduced in, there will be
resurgence,” the analyst said.
At the same time, the expert stressed that while many ordinary Yellow
Vests deplore the violence that we have seen in Paris and in other
major cities, most people’s encounter with the movement is at peaceful
demonstrations in provincial France, where many people are aware of the
day-to-day problems that confront ordinary folk struggle to make ends
“The government still has a public order problem. The coalition of
the black blocs with the hardline Yellow Vests has not gone away and
has, indeed, taken a rather unpleasant, nihilist turn. Moderate France
will want to see that the government has taken back control of the
streets soon,” Paul Smith added
William Keylor, Professor of International Relations and History
Emeritus, the Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University, shared
the opinion of deep inequality in modern French society.
“The so-called Yellow Vest protests reflect a growing sense among
average French people that the country is dominated by a small elite of
very wealthy families and individuals, while the major of French people
are struggling to make ends meet. The contrast between the wealthy few
and the struggling many has caused significant conflict within the
country. President Macron is seen as a defender of the wealthy elite,”
the expert said.
However, in his opinion, this continuing protest will hardly threaten
the position of President Macron who has a large majority in the French
“On the other hand, the polls demonstrate that public opinion has
turned decisively against him. He was elected with a huge majority and
enjoyed strong support from the population, according to the polling at
the time,” William Keylor said.
“Despite this unrest, France is a prosperous country, despite a
relatively high unemployment rate. I suspect that eventually the Yellow
Vest protests will decline, and the political and social system will
recover from this challenge,” the analyst added.
In turn, Professor Emeritus Edouard Bustin, Political Science
Department, Boston University, stressed that a sense of discontent is
not unusual in France.
“But it has taken a new shape since Macron’s election. It involves –
unlike the May 1968 protests – a high degree of disaffection in rural as
well as urban areas, i.e. in those parts of the country that feel
ignored, or underserved by a Paris-based ‘technocratic’ elite, of which
Macron is the symbol and the incarnation,” the expert said.
From his point of view, the protests are undoubtedly an expression of
popular anger, and are indirectly related to the breakdown of France’s
traditional party system.
“In part, it is the result of Macron’s ability to capitalize on the
perceived irrelevance of existing formations such as PS or LR. Radical
alternatives – Mélenchon’s ‘France Insoumise’ or Marine LePen’s National
Front (FN) – failed to fill the gap,” Edouard Bustin reminded.
The risk for Macron is serious – if not in the short run – but it may affect his chances to win a second term, he said.
“Macron is still searching for a way to regain credibility. The Great National Debate he launched in response won him some qualified support from local ‘notables’ but not from the hard-core protesters. Unlike Charles De Gaulle in 1968, he is unlikely to call a ‘snap election,’ but he can and probably will wait for protests to subside – summer, by which time, the French are on vacations, is usually a ‘grace period’ for strikes or protests. Whether or not this will hold true this year remains to be seen. His chances of winning a second term are in doubt,” the analyst concluded.
One of the chief reasons why almost every regime in the world has
converged to a system of participatory fascism is that this system
creates or retains a great variety of institutionalized opportunities
for the state’s victims—who compose the great majority of the people—to
challenge the state’s exactions and to “make their voices heard,”
thereby gaining the impression that the rulers are not simply oppressing
and exploiting them unilaterally but involving them in an essential way
in the making and enforcement of rules.
These opportunities help to allay public resentment and anger, assuring people that they have had “their day in court,” and thereby serve to prop up the regime and its ongoing exploitation.
These official avenues of protest and resistance are, however, rarely of any real avail. The oppressed citizens and other residents are protesting the actions of legislatures, government executives, bureaucracies, and courts run by the very people who are engaged in the oppression and plunder.
The opportunities for voicing feedback are, in effect, ways in which people are allowed to request that the slave master stop beating them or reduce the severity of the beating. Rarely do the petitioners win, and even when they do, the costs of making their appeals, especially through the legal system, guarantee that they will be impoverished in the process.
Heads you lose, tails you lose. I promise you that in making the foregoing statements, I am speaking not only from my scholarly engagement with the matter but also from my personal experience, some of which grinds on seemingly endlessly even as I tap out this cri de coeur.
This article was published by The Beacon
Pakatan Harapan failed to secure two-thirds majority in Parliament for its constitutional amendment to restore Sabah and Sarawak’s equal status in Malaysia. Why did Sarawak abstain from voting for this amendment? What might be the ramifications for the federal government?
By Piya Sukhani*
It has been almost a year since Pakatan Harapan (PH) made history with its victory at the 14th Malaysian general election (GE14) on 9 May 2018. As part of its election manifesto, PH pledged that one of its core priorities would be the restoration of Sabah and Sarawak’s rights in accordance with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
This was to rectify the constitutional amendment of 1976 that had
downgraded the status of Sabah and Sarawak from being equal partners
with Malaya to become equivalent to the other states in the Federation
of Malaysia. After 43 years, a Constitutional amendment on Article 1(2)
that attempted to restore Sabah and Sarawak’s status as equal partners
was tabled in the Malaysian Parliament by PH on 9 April 2019.
There was initial optimism that this amendment would pass and
contribute to positive outcomes for the two states, including greater
political and legal authority in administering the states, and a more
equitable distribution of the revenues generated from the exploitation
of the natural resources in East Malaysia.
However, the amendment was not passed after it failed to secure a
two-thirds majority in Parliament, falling short of 10 votes. 138 voted
for the amendment and 59 abstained: this included UMNO, PAS and Gabungan
Parti Sarawak (GPS), the party leading the Sarawak state government.
It may seem counterintuitive that Sarawak, which has been robustly
pushing for the re-establishment of its status as an equal partner in
the Federation, abstained from voting in support for the amendment. Not
surprisingly, tensions have increased between the Sarawak state
government and the federal government. Both sides have begun blaming
each other for the failure to pass the amendment.
Upon scrutiny there are several factors at play that explain this development:
Firstly, it is important to understand the dynamics between the state
and PH. Following GE14, even though GPS situated itself as part of the
Opposition, it declared that it would cooperate with the federal
government, supporting it for the state’s progress and development.
However, Abang Johari, Sarawak’s Chief Minister, declared in March
2019 that “if their policies are bad for us, we will fight”, and for the
interest of the state and its people, it is best that Sarawak is “ruled
by local leaders from local-based parties”. Johari’s remarks are
According to a Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) politician, the
reality on the ground was quite different from GPS’ claims of being
friendly with the federal government. He noted that GPS had described
the federal government as “toxic” for the welfare of Sarawakians.
At the grassroots level, there is also a clear rivalry between PH
Sarawak and GPS, especially between DAP and GPS. From the perspective of
PH Sarawak, the state government had contributed to the widening gap
between the native people of Sarawak and Kuala Lumpur through an
As part of this rhetoric, the DAP is demonised as a peninsular-based
party that seeks to champion the progress of the Chinese community,
while neglecting the rights and welfare of the natives. This politics of
race proves to be especially challenging for Sarawak PH, as its
chairman, Chieng Jen, serves as the Sarawak DAP chairman too.
GPS, with its power of incumbency, has a significant influence on the
people. For instance, as the vast majority of Sarawakians live in rural
areas, community leaders of these areas (Penghulu and Ketua Rumah)
are required to be elected by the villagers and residents of the
vicinity. Instead of being elected though, they are apparently
‘selected’ by the state government.
As a result, it is believed that these leaders will likely be
supportive of the state government. This system of control provides a
platform for the state government to put forth its own narrative
viz-a-viz the federal government.
Following the tabling of the amendment Bill, PH Sarawak issued a
statement in which it blamed “political differences” for GPS’ decision
to abstain and called on GPS to “put aside their pride and ego”.
Alluding to possible hidden political agendas, Chieng Jen also said in a
statement: “You may have other interests in mind, your political or
survival interests. But I think it’s important that the interests of the
state should be made the first priority.”
GPS has come out to explain its decision. It argued that the
amendment failed because it was unclear and did not accurately reflect
the spirit of restoring the rights of Sarawak; it did not detail the
enforcement of equal partnership in substance and form, including
ensuring a third of parliamentary seats and a third of national
GPS also argued that the amendment’s exclusion of a third of the
annual fiscal allocation to Sarawak, considering that Sarawak was one of
the biggest contributors to national revenue, demonstrated that the
federal government ‘lacked sincerity’. Thus the stance of GPS remains
that the amendments are not adequate and a more comprehensive Bill needs
to be tabled to ensure equal partnership is reinstated effectively.
Chieng Jen has rebutted this saying that this was only the first step
towards the process of power devolution, adding that “if GPS sincerely
has the interest of Sarawak in mind, there is no reason to oppose”.
The failure to pass the amendment is a setback for the federal
government. In addition to the time and political capital expended, the
failure will also strengthen the perception among some Malaysians of an
ineffective federal government. It does not help that the PH has also
suffered setbacks in other areas – by-election losses and the
backtracking on the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court are
some recent examples.
It is unclear whether the federal government would carry on with its
efforts. President of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Anwar Ibrahim said
that “the government is in no rush to retable the Bill”.
On the other hand, GPS has called for the matter to be referred to a
Parliamentary Select Committee so that the rights of the state can be
thoroughly discussed, adding that “if we can wait for 43 years for the
1976 amendment to be rectified, why can’t we wait for another six months
or one year until we have a complete package for the constitutional
Is the GPS being overly optimistic? It is key to note that the
Sarawak state elections will be held before 7 September 2021. PH will
try to win the state and GPS will do its utmost to prevent that from
happening. The failure to pass the amendment can perhaps be seen as the
first victim of this tussle, and is likely not to be the last. As
Malaysia gets closer to the state elections, PH will have to decide
whether it wants to attempt again. It cannot simply forget Sabah too. If
PH pushes for an amendment again, GPS will have to decide how to
*Piya Sukhani is a Research Analyst with the Malaysia Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. This is part of a series on Malaysia’s Changing Federal-State Relations.
The GOP senator is asking for evidence to corroborate details in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
“fbi” – Google News
Inflation that’s projected to reach an eyeball-popping 8 million percent this year has left Venezuela saddled with the title of the world’s most miserable economy, Bloomberg reports.
The embattled South American nation topped the rankings of Bloomberg’s
Misery Index, which sums inflation and unemployment outlooks for 62
economies, for the fifth straight year.
Venezuela and a handful
of others in the “most miserable” camp are in a lonely battle fighting
high inflation alongside lofty jobless rates. Most other countries’
policy makers this year face a very different challenge: a tricky
combination of quiet inflation and lower unemployment that complicates
readings on economic health and appropriate responses.
again claimed the title of the “least miserable” economy, though the
government’s unique way of tallying unemployment makes it less
noteworthy than Switzerland’s improvement to second-least and Singapore
managing to stay in the bottom three. The U.S. moved six spots toward
13th least miserable, and the U.K. improved four spots to 16th least.
The Bloomberg Misery Index relies on the age-old concept that low
inflation and unemployment generally illustrate how good an economy’s
residents should feel. This year’s scores are based on Bloomberg
economist surveys, while prior years reflect actual data.
Sometimes, of course, a low tally can be misleading in either category:
Persistently low prices can be a sign of poor demand, and too-low
joblessness shackles workers who want to switch to better jobs, for
In “A New Historical Inscription of Sargon II from Karkemish,” published in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Gianni Marchesi translates a recently discovered inscription of the Assyrian King Sargon II found at the ruins of the ancient city of Karkemish.
The inscription, which dates to around 713 B.C., details Sargon’s conquest, occupation, and reorganization of Karkemish, including his rebuilding the city with ritual ceremonies usually reserved for royal palaces in capital cities. The text implies that Sargon may have been planning to make Karkemish a western capital of Assyria, from which he could administer and control his empire’s western territories.
The cuneiform inscription was found on fragments from three
different clay cylinders in 2015 as part of the Nicolò Marchetti-led
Turco-Italian Archaeological Expedition at Karkemish. Now in ruins, the
site is located on the Euphrates river on the border between present day
Syria and Turkey.
Marchesi analyzed and translated the total of thirty-eight lines of
partially broken Akkadian text, using reference material, academic
literature and other inscribed Assyrian artifacts as reference points
for filling in the gaps. The lines of text ranged from two-thirds
complete to much less, and no line of text was completely intact.
“Even so, we can grasp much of the original text, which turns out to
be very informative,” Marchesi writes. “In fact, unlike other Sargon
cylinders, which contain relatively standard ‘summary’ inscriptions or
annalistic accounts of the events of Sargon’s reign, the Karkemish
Cylinder provides us with a completely new inscription, dealing almost
exclusively with the newly conquered city on the Euphrates in a
highly-elaborated, literary style.”
In the inscription, Sargon tells of the “betrayal” of Pirisi, the
Hittite King of Karkemish who exchanged hostile words about Assyria with
its enemy, King Midas of Phrygia. Sargon invades Karkemish, deports
Pisiri and his supporters, destroys his palace, seizes his riches as
booty and incorporates Pisiri’s army into his own. He resettles the city
with Assyrians. Having previously blocked the water supply to
Karkemish, the meadows “let go fallow, like a wasteland,” Marchesi
translates, he now reactivates the irrigation system, planting orchards
and botanical gardens. “I made the scent of the city sweeter than the
scent of a cedar forest.”
He also details an inauguration ceremony where he received gifts
from Assyrian provinces and sacrifices them to deities. “My lords the
gods Karhuha and Kubaba, who dwell in Karkemish, I invited them into my
palace,” Marchesi translates. “Strong rams of the stable, geese, ducks
and flying birds of the sky I offered before them.”
Marchesi was struck by the attention that Sargon paid to Karkemish,
in particular the elaborate inauguration ceremony and construction of
botanical gardens, both indicative not of a typical provincial capital
but of a royal palace.
“Because of its glorious past and strategic position, Karkemish
was fully entitled to become a sort of western capital of the Assyrian
Empire: a perfect place in which to display the grandeur of Assyria, and
from which to control the western and north-western territories of the
empire,” Marchesi writes.
This vision of Karkemish was short-lived, however. Though much care
was taken to detail the city’s rise in these texts, the city is not
mentioned in any known inscriptions of Sargon’s successors.
“The unthinkable, ominous death of Sargon on the battlefield in
Tabal probably prevented this project from being accomplished, and
negatively marked the destiny of Karkemish itself, which no longer
attracted the interest of Assyrian kings who followed after him,”
The brain is more resilient than previously thought. In a groundbreaking experiment published in this week’s issue of Nature, neuroscientists created an artificial circulation system that successfully restored some functions and structures in donated pig brains–up to four hours after the pigs were butchered at a USDA food processing facility. Though there was no evidence of restored consciousness, brains from the pigs were without oxygen for hours, yet could still support key functions provided by the artificial system. The result challenges the notion that mammalian brains are fully and irreversibly damaged by a lack of oxygen.
“The assumptions have always been that after a couple minutes of anoxia, or no oxygen, the brain is ‘dead,’” says Stuart Youngner, MD, who co-authored a commentary accompanying the study with Insoo Hyun, PhD, both professors in the Department of Bioethics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. “The system used by the researchers begs the question: How long should we try to save people?”
In the pig experiment, researchers used an artificial perfusate (a
type of cell-free “artificial blood”), which helped brain cells maintain
their structure and some functions. Resuscitative efforts in humans,
like CPR, are also designed to get oxygen to the brain and stave off
brain damage. After a period of time, if a person doesn’t respond to
resuscitative efforts, emergency medical teams declare them dead.
The acceptable duration of resuscitative efforts is somewhat
uncertain. “It varies by country, emergency medical team, and hospital,”
Youngner said. Promising results from the pig experiment further muddy
the waters about the when to stop life-saving efforts.
At some point, emergency teams must make a critical switch from
trying to save a patient, to trying to save organs, said Youngner. “In
Europe, when emergency teams stop resuscitation efforts, they declare a
patient dead, and then restart the resuscitation effort to circulate
blood to the organs so they can preserve them for transplantation.”
The switch can involve extreme means. In the commentary, Youngner
and Hyun describe how some organ recovery teams use a balloon to
physically cut off blood circulation to the brain after declaring a
person dead, to prepare the organs for transplantation.
The pig experiment implies that sophisticated efforts to perfuse the
brain might maintain brain cells. If technologies like those used in
the pig experiment could be adapted for humans (a long way off, caution
Youngner and Hyun), some people who, today, are typically declared
legally dead after a catastrophic loss of oxygen could, tomorrow, become
candidates for brain resuscitation, instead of organ donation.
Said Youngner, “As we get better at resuscitating the brain, we need
to decide when are we going to save a patient, and when are we going to
declare them dead–and save five or more who might benefit from an
Because brain resuscitation strategies are in their infancy and will
surely trigger additional efforts, the scientific and ethics community
needs to begin discussions now, says Hyun. “This study is likely to
raise a lot of public concerns. We hoped to get ahead of the hype and
offer an early, reasoned response to this scientific advance.”
Both Youngner and Hyun praise the experiment as a “major scientific
advancement” that is overwhelmingly positive. It raises the tantalizing
possibility that the grave risks of brain damage caused by a lack of
oxygen could, in some cases, be reversible.
“Pig brains are similar in many ways to human brains, which makes
this study so compelling,” Hyun said. “We urge policymakers to think
proactively about what this line of research might mean for ongoing
debates around organ donation and end of life care.”