Category Archives: India

70% of U.S. youth are too fat, uneducated, and criminal to serve in military

childhood obesity rates of U.S., China, Japan, So. Korea & India

Michael Cook reports for MercatorNet, Nov. 9, 2015, that in a 2009 report, Ready, Willing, And Unable To Serve, more than 450 retired generals and admirals in a lobby group called Mission Readiness concluded that young Americans are “too fat to fight” and that “The best aircraft, ships and satellite-guided weaponry alone will not be enough to keep our country strong”.

According to the report:

Startling statistics released by the Pentagon show that 75 percent of young people ages 17 to 24 are currently unable to enlist in the United States military. Three of the most common barriers for potential recruits are failure to graduate high school, a criminal record, and physical fitness issues, including obesity.

That was in 2009. Alas, nothing has changed since.

Mission Readiness 2014 report, Retreat is Not an Option,  found that:

Obesity is one of the main reasons why more than 70 percent of young Americans are unable to serve in today’s military. This includes young adults in families with generations of military service, and others who have the critical skills our military needs but cannot join simply because of too many extra pounds.

There are 3 reasons for why 75% of young Americans are unfit to serve in the U.S. military:

  1. Inadequate education: About 25% of young Americans lack a high school diploma. Even those who have one, many are substandard at reading and mathematics, which explains why as many as 30% of potential recruits with a diploma fail the Armed Forces Qualification Test.
  2. Criminal records: About 10% of young U.S. adults are disqualified because they have had at least one prior conviction for a felony or serious misdemeanour. According to the Pew Center on the States, “One in 30 [American young] men between the ages of 20 and 34 is behind bars.”
  3. Obesity and other health problems: 27% of young Americans are too fat to join the military. Many never even try to join. But of those who do, 15,000 fail their entrance physicals every year because they are too fat. Another 32% of all young people have other disqualifying health problems –asthma, eyesight or hearing problems, mental health issues, or recent treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In total, half of young U.S. adults cannot join because of health problems.

Study after study show that the best early education program is a stable home with a loving mother and father. But the Obama administration’s Pentagon, instead of realising that young Americans need the strength and security that comes from intact biological families, recommend the usual government solution — better early education programs, better school meals, and better physical education programs. What the Pentagon refuses to say for politically correct reasons, is that America’s national security is at risk because America’s families are dysfunctional.

This is emphasized by a 2014 report by Brad Wilcox and Robert I. Lerman for the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Family Studies, which concluded that:

“what is largely missing from the public conversation about economics in America is an honest discussion of the family factor. The retreat from marriage … plays a key role in the changing economic fortunes of American family life. Growing up with both parents (in an intact family) is strongly associated with more education, work, and income among today’s young men and women.”

And they make better soldiers, too.

Retired Rear Admiral James Barnett said, “Our national security in the year 2030 is absolutely dependent upon what is going on in pre-kindergarten today.” In healthy families, kids learn to respect authority, value education and take responsibility for their health. They learn how to cooperate and to work as a team. They build a stronger moral sense. And all this costs the taxpayer nothing, unlike the government-funded programs recommended by the retired generals and admirals.

But after two generations of me-centred marriages and unstable families, America’s human capital increasingly is degraded. The introduction of same-sex marriage would only accelerate the process. As The Economist says about the challenges ahead: “The result is that America may be unable, within reasonable cost limits and without reinstituting the draft, to raise the much bigger army it might need for such wars.

At the moment, the Pentagon relies upon a weak job market to lure young men and women into the services. But it worries and should worry about what will happen when the economy eventually picks up.

Lastly, America’s obese young are not just bad for the military, they constitute a looming national health crisis.

Time magazine reports that researchers at a recent American Heart Association annual meeting in Florida warned that excess weight in children can lead to potentially harmful changes in the hearts of kids as young as 8.

Linyuan Jing, a post doctoral fellow from the Geisinger Health System, and her colleagues studied 20 obese children—i.e., those with a body mass index over 35, whereas a healthy range is 18.5 to 25—and 20 normal-weight children. All had MRIs of their hearts.

The researchers found that obese children:

  1. have 12% thicker heart muscle overall compared to the normal-weight children. Thicker heart muscle means the heart is working harder to pump blood. Previous studies have linked thickened heart muscle in adults to premature death from heart-related causes.
  2. show 27% thicker left ventricles, the chamber of the heart responsible for pumping blood to the body.
  3. show signs of having less cardiac muscle contractility, which is a possible early sign of decreased heart function.

Jing said, “It’s surprising to see evidence of heart disease among eight year olds. Because that implies that children younger than eight could have signs of heart disease as well.”

-StMA

Military-aviation website forecasts economic collapse & massive depopulation for U.S. by 2025

Deagel.com, a military equipment and civil aviation guide website, is causing a buzz on the Internet for its dire forecast that in a mere 10 years, by the year 2025, the United States would be unrecognizable, a shadow of its former self. Specifically, the U.S.’s:

  • Population will be reduced by 254 million (or 78%), plummeting from today’s 318,890,000 to 64,879,100.
  • GDP will be reduced by $16.54 trillion, plummeting from today’s $17.42 trillion to $881.804 billion.
  • Power purchase parity will be reduced by $45,739, plummeting from today’s $54,800 to $9,061.

What is Deagel.com? Wikipedia does not have an entry on Deagel.com. This is what the precious metals website Silver Doctors says about Deagel.com:

Deagel.com is a military equipment and civil aviation guide website. I have spent time trying to figure out who is behind iit and whether or not it is legitimate – and what the purpose of it is. Certainly it seems legitimate as a catalog of military equipment, the corporations which manufacture the equipment and the Government organizations involved with anything related to the military.

Here’s a screenshot of Deagel.com‘s home page (click to enlarge):

Deagle.com1

In a statement about its forecast, Deagel.com claims that:

  • Its forecasts employ mainly data from two sources:
    • Institutions such as the CIA, IMF, UN, and USG (U.S. government).
    • “Shadow sources such as Internet gurus, unsigned reports and others.”
  • Governments lie. Like the economic lies that communist regimes told their people and the world, present-day governments of seemingly-affluent countries like the United States also generate fake statistics about their economies.
  • The implosion of the U.S. will be triggered by a financial and economic collapse.
  • That, in turn, will result in a massive loss of population from deaths and out-migration.

Here’s Deagel.com‘s statement in its entirety:

There have been many questions about the countries forecast specially the one focusing on the United States of America (USA). They won’t be answered one by one but below you can find some explanation, thoughts and reflections. We are going to keep this as short as possible. The majority of the economic and demographic data used in the making of the forecasts is widely available by institutions such as the CIA, IMF, UN, USG, etc. You can see the most relevant data at every single country’s page. There is a tiny part of data coming from a variety of shadow sources such as Internet gurus, unsigned reports and others. But all these sources are from the internet and are of public domain for at least a minority. For example, several years ago Dagong, the Chinese ratings agency, published a report analyzing the physical economy of the States comparing it with those of China, Germany and Japan. The conclusion was that the US GDP was something between $5 to $10 trillion instead of $15 trillion as officially reported by the USG. We assume that the official data, especially economic, released by governments is fake, cooked or distorted in some degree. Historically it is well known that the former Soviet Union was making up fake statistics years before its collapse. Western as well as other countries are making up their numbers today to conceal their real state of affairs. We are sure that many people out there can find government statistics in their own countries that by their own personal experience are hard to believe or are so optimistic that may belong to a different country. Despite the numeric data “quantity” there is a “quality” model which has not a direct translation into numeric data. The 2014 strain of Ebola has a death rate of 50-60% but try to imagine what would happen if there is a pandemic of Ebola with hundreds of thousands or millions infected with the virus. So far the few cases of Ebola-infected people have “enjoyed” intensive healthcare with anti-viral and breathing assistance but above all with abundant human support by Physicians and nurses. In a pandemic scenario that kind of healthcare won’t be available for the overwhelming number of infected leading to a dramatic increase of the death rate due to the lack of proper healthcare. The “quality” factor is that the death rate could increase to 80-90% in a pandemic scenario from the stated 50-60% rate. The figure itself is not important what is relevant is the fact that the scenario can evolve beyond the initial conditions from a 50% death toll to more than 90%. By the way, no pandemic or nuclear war is included in the forecast. The key element to understand the process that the USA will enter in the upcoming decade is migration. In the past, specially in the 20th century, the key factor that allowed the USA to rise to its colossus status was immigration with the benefits of a demographic expansion supporting the credit expansion and the brain drain from the rest of the world benefiting the States. The collapse of the Western financial system will wipe out the standard of living of its population while ending ponzi schemes such as the stock exchange and the pension funds. The population will be hit so badly by a full array of bubbles and ponzi schemes that the migration engine will start to work in reverse accelerating itself due to ripple effects thus leading to the demise of the States. This unseen situation for the States will develop itself in a cascade pattern with unprecedented and devastating effects for the economy. Jobs offshoring will surely end with many American Corporations relocating overseas thus becoming foreign Corporations!!!! We see a significant part of the American population migrating to Latin America and Asia while migration to Europe – suffering a similar illness – won’t be relevant. Nevertheless the death toll will be horrible. Take into account that the Soviet Union’s population was poorer than the Americans nowadays or even then. The ex-Soviets suffered during the following struggle in the 1990s with a significant death toll and the loss of national pride. Might we say “Twice the pride, double the fall”? Nope. The American standard of living is one of the highest, far more than double of the Soviets while having added a services economy that will be gone along with the financial system. When pensioners see their retirement disappear in front of their eyes and there are no servicing jobs you can imagine what is going to happen next. At least younger people can migrate. Never in human history were so many elders among the population. In past centuries people were lucky to get to their 30s or 40s. The American downfall is set to be far worse than the Soviet Union’s one. A confluence of crisis with a devastating result. The Demographic crisis in the former Soviet Union countries has extended for over two decades, if we accept that it ended early in this decade (2010s). The demographic crisis will hit the World in the near future and is projected to last between three and eight decades more or less depending on technological breakthrough and environmental issues. The aftermath is more likely a frozen picture with the population numbers staying the same for a very, very long period of time. The countries forecast population numbers do reflect birth/deaths but also migratory movements. Many countries are going to increase their gross population due to immigration while their native population may shrink. Over the past two thousand years we have witnessed the Western civilization built around the Mediterranean Sea shifting to Northern Europe and then by the mid 20th century shifting to an Atlantic axis to finally get centered into the States in the past 30 years. The next move will see the civilization being centered in Asia with Russia and China on top. Historically a change in the economic paradigm has resulted in a death toll that is rarely highlighted by mainstream historians. When the transition from rural areas to large cities happened in Europe many people unable to accept the new paradigm killed themselves. They killed themselves by a psychological factor. This is not mainstream but it is true. A new crisis joins old, well known patterns with new ones. Sorry to disappoint many of you with our forecast. It is getting worse and worse every year since the beginning of the pre-crisis in 2007. It is already said that this website is non-profit, built on spare time and we provide our information and services AS IS without further explanations and/or guarantees. We are not linked to any government in any way, shape or form. We are not a death or satanic cult or arms dealers as some BS is floating around the internet on this topic. Take into account that the forecast is nothing more than a model whether flawed or correct. It is not God’s word or a magic device that allows to foresee the future. Sunday, October 26th, 2014

The United States isn’t the only country for which Deagel.com has a dire forecast. Here are some other countries that will experience drastic population losses:

  1. United Kingdom: From 63,740,000 to 22,570,600
  2. Germany: From 80,990,000 to 48,123,620.
  3. Italy: 61,680,000 to 45,526,880.
  4. France: 66,260,000 to 43,548,080.
  5. Ireland: 4,830,000 to 1,506,920.
  6. Greece: 10,770,000 to 3,295,240
  7. Netherlands: 16,880,000 to 10,483,760
  8. Spain: 47,740,000 to 25,745,560
  9. Poland: 38,350,000 to 35,329,520
  10. Israel: 7,820,000 to 2,856,300
  11. Russia: 142,470,000 to 136,979,080
  12. Canada: 34,830,000 to 24,594,680
  13. Japan: 127,100,000 to 46,640,420.
  14. Taiwan: 23,360,000 to 15,431,900
  15. Australia: 22,510,000 to 8,882,220
  16. New Zealand: 4,400,000 to 3,398,200

Countries that will increase in population include:

  1. China: 1,350,000,000 to 1,360,720,000
  2. India: 1,240,000,000 to 1,357,200,000
  3. Indonesia: 253,610,000 to 269,846,400
  4. Pakistan: 196,170,000 to 222,018,120
  5. Brazil: 202,660,000 to 217,859,380
  6. Argentina: 43,020,000 to 44,104,700
  7. Colombia: 46,240,000 to 49,759,520
  8. Iran: 80,840,000 to 83,357,560

To see Deagel.com‘s 2025 forecasts for all 182 countries, go here. Silver Doctors writes: “I leave it up to the reader to decide whether or not this is a legitimate forecast from a legitimate organization. […] But, having said that, I have 100% conviction that the U.S. is heading toward a devastating financial and economic collapse that will trigger massive social upheaval and civil unrest. What just happened in Baltimore is small taste of what that will look like.”

UPDATE (May 8, 2015):

Here are my critique and analysis:

  1. Deagel.com‘s flawed data: The website itself admits that governments, including the U.S. government, lie about their economic statistics. And yet Deagle.com says “most” of its data come from public information sources that include USG and other governments.
  2. Deagel.com‘s faux numerical precision: Despite its flawed data, the website manages to make forecasts 10 years into the future with numerical precision of specific population numbers and GDPs in exact dollar amounts.
  3. There does not appear to be a discernible logic for the order of countries in Deagel.com‘s list of 182 countries in 2025. The countries are arranged neither alphabetically, nor geographically (by region or continent), nor by their fortunes (decline or improvement), nor by the severity of their projected decline.
  4. If one assumes that the economic collapse of the U.S. dollar and of the U.S. economy would be the trigger event, that could explain why other western countries (Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) and Japan would also decline. But why would China, whose economy is so dependent on the U.S. market for its exports, be exempt from the predicted precipitous decline, but instead is predicted to have a population increase of 10.72 million and only a slight $466 decrease in its PPP (from $12,900 to $12,566? That makes no sense.
  5. Making even less sense is that present-day 4th-world countries like Burkina Faso in Africa is projected to increase its population from 18,360,000 to 18,402,380, and its PPP from $1,700 to $1,841.

~StMA

Explosion shut down China’s first aircraft carrier in recent sea trials

liaoning

Robert Beckheusen writes for Medium, Oct. 19, 2014, that China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning, a potent symbol of the growing naval power of the revived Middle Kingdom, is prone to engine failures.

The 53,000-ton, 999-foot-long carrier’s previous incarnation was as the ex-Soviet carrier Varyag that China had bought from a cash-strapped Ukraine in 1998. An unnamed PLA officer told the Chinese media site Sina.com that Varyag was a “basket case.”

In 2005, the People’s Liberation Army’s Navy began modernizing the warship into the Liaoning by rebuilding the carrier from the inside. New electronics, self-defense anti-aircraft guns and new engines were just some of the upgrades.

But on at least one occasion during recent sea trials, Liaoning appeared to suffer a steam explosion that temporarily knocked out the carrier’s electrical power system.  Sina.com says the engine failure was due to a leak in “the machine oven compartment to the water pipes.”

Outsiders, however, know very little about the carrier’s engine problems, what’s inside the ship, or even what kind of engines Liaoning has. Adding to the opacity is the fact that the Chinese government doesn’t like to admit to problems with its military hardware. When it does, the admissions often come months or years after problems come up.

In the case of Liaoning‘s recent accident, according to Sina.com, hot water and steam began “spewing” out of the engine’s oven compartment. One cabin became “instantly submerged in water vapor.” The crew immediately evacuated the cabin, with one officer apparently pulling a sailor out by his collar to save him from the boiling hot steam. The carrier then lost power, but the crew “eventually restored power to ensure the smooth operation of the ship.” That suggests that the accident wasn’t a catastrophic boiler failure of the kind that would unleash almost instantaneously lethal, high-pressure steam. Instead, it appears Liaoning suffered a low-pressure steam release involving a faulty heat exchanger. Vessels commonly use heat exchangers to control water temperature necessary for regulating internal power and heating.

Engine failures are not an unknown phenomenon aboard ex-Soviet carriers. As examples:

  • Two years ago, India’s 40,000-ton displacement carrier Vikramaditya—first a Soviet Kiev-class carrier commissioned in 1987 and sold in 2004—temporarily shut down at sea after a boiler overheated.
  • The 50,000-ton Russian carrier Admiral Kuznetsov goes nowhere without a tug escort in case her engines break down.

As Beijing’s first serviceable carrier, the Chinese navy isn’t going to get rid of Liaoning any time soon. The ship is a valuable resource for naval flight operations. Even if China never sends her into battle, she’s useful for training and learning how carriers work.

But powerplant problems can also make it so China can do little else. Failures can add costly repairs, shorten the vessel’s lifespan and force her to crawl along the water at slow speeds. Beijing also lacks large overseas naval bases—a necessity if trouble arises while Liaoning sails far from China’s shores.

Given all that, Liaoning is more similar to its ex-Soviet cousins than different—confined to home ports and restricted from challenging rivals like India.

In 2010, writing in the Chinese-language Global Times, military analyst Liu Zhongmin admitted that although “China began to send navy convoys on anti-piracy missions to the Gulf of Aden and the Somali coast in 2008, the lack of overseas bases has emerged as a major impediment to the Chinese navy’s cruising efficiency.

To this must now be added Liaoning‘s engine problems.

See also:

~StMA

Aircraft carrier race: China vs. Japan & India

Donald Kirk writes for Forbes, August 13, 2013:

Tugboats guide the indigenously-built aircraft...

Tugboats guide the Vikrant as it leaves the dock of the Cochin Shipyard after the launch ceremony in Kochi  AFP/Getty Images via @daylife)

What is it about aircraft carriers that just about any nation of supersize and heft has to have one? That’s the question after the launch over the past week of two aircraft carriers by nations on either side of China – that is, India, to the south and southwest and Japan to the east.

The Indian aircraft carrier won’t actually be able to do anything for real for another five years while the Japanese carrier is supposedly just a large destroyer with an outsized flight deck. The Japanese say that’s big enough for only 14 helicopters, but it sure looks as if it’s intended for fixed-wing aircraft as well.

Nobody’s predicting that either of these mighty warships will go into battle in the near future. Still, the Japanese carrier, or destroyer, does appear as a response to China’s lone aircraft carrier, a discard from the Ukraine that was rebuilt in China but isn’t carrying planes except for testing and training.

Discreetly, the Japanese aren’t boasting much about the 19,500-ton Izumo, which should be ready for action in two years, but Japan’s success in producing such a vessel may diminish the Chinese challenge to Japanese control over the disputed Senkaku islands, Diaoyu to the Chinese. No one doubts that Japanese shipyards, after decades producing some of the biggest, most sophisticated commercial vessels, could turn out still more in the Izumo class – and go up in class to full-fledged aircraft carriers.

At the same time, India is trumpeting Monday’s launch of the 37,500-ton Vikrant as its first “indigenous” aircraft carrier, entirely engineered and produced in India at a shipyard in Cochin on the southeastern coast, but this vessel is far from functional.  Yes, it’s safely in the water, to the din of a traditional band and Sanskrit chants, christened by the wife of defense minister A.K. Antony when she broke a coconut on the bow, but basically it’s a shell awaiting a flight deck, bridge and much else.

As  for China’s carrier the Liaoning, the new name of a Soviet Navy ship that was launched 25 years ago, it’s been rebuilt and sailing around the Yellow Sea for more than a year, but it’s relegated to the role of a training vessel. Chinese shipyards are expected to try to produce home-made models in the next few years, advancing on much the same technology. At 55,000 tons, the Liaoning’s got a flight deck 999 feet long – not all that much longer than the 860-foot flight deck of the Vikrant or the 814-foot flight deck of the Izumo– and can carry maybe 50 fighter planes compared with 36 on the Vikrant. (The Japanese, of course, don’t say how many planes the Izumo might carry since, remember, it’s not supposed to carry any planes at all.)

China's first aircraft carrier, the 'Liaoning'...

China’s first aircraft carrier, the ‘Liaoning,’ berthed at the naval base in Dalian, northeast China’s Liaoning province.(AFP/Getty Images via @daylife)

China is obviously upset about the competition, especially from Japan, always seen as looking for an excuse to return to the days of Japanese imperialism that ended 68 years ago this week with the Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945. The Japanese have built hundreds of enormous merchant ships but no military vessel nearly as large as the Izumo since the “Pacific War.”

For India, not known as a ship-building nation despite its long coastlines, the launch of the Vikrant, meaning “courageous,” is a matter of intense pride. “A proud moment for Indian Navy,” headlined The Hindu, a major national newspaper. “In Elite Club,” said a subhead. “Indigenous” and “indigenization” are words that come up regularly in reports of the launch.

It’s as though Indians are overjoyed not to have to describe the ship as “Indianized” via “Indianization” – terms for converting three other carriers, two that began life in the British Royal Navy and a third that’s arriving soon from the Russian navy. “India will join a select club of  four nations – U.S., UK, France and Russia – that have the capability to build and operate warships of this size,” said The Indian Express EXPR -1.73%, another national newspaper, despite “a long road ahead” before the ship is completed, has undergone sea trials and is ready for duty.

Actually, India has much more to do than that if the ship is fit for war – for instance against Pakistan. The new Vikrant will not go to war without destroyers for protection and tenders and supply vessels to keep it fueled and its 1,500-man crew adequately fed, but India’s first carrier, also named the Vikrant (the Hercules during its Royal Navy days, now a floating museum in Mumbai), came in handy in the Indo-Pak War more than 40 years ago. .

Crew members of Japan's newest warship, the DD...

Crew members of Japan’s newest warship, the Izumo. during launch ceremony in Yokohama on August 6, (AFP/Getty Images via @daylife)

But where is the arms race in aircraft carriers really going? How can India justify the investment of more than $5 billion in an aircraft carrier against other priorities ranging from food and health to defense on its land borders with Pakistan and China?

The question seems all the more relevant as U.S. carriers more than twice as large roam the region’s waters. If the aircraft carriers of China, Japan and India ever go to war, it’s a safe bet that the George Washington and Ronald Reagan, nearly 100,000 tons each, will be throwing their weight around. And that’s to say nothing of a new class of supercarrier beginning with the Gerald R. Ford, due for launch this year.

[End of Forbes article]

USS Ronald ReaganUSS Ronald Reagan

Meanwhile, three days ago, on Jan. 15, 2014, the U.S. Navy announced that the USS Ronald Reagan, a Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier, will replace the USS George Washington at Yokosuka Naval Base near Tokyo.

“The security environment in the Indo-Asia-Pacific requires that the U.S. Navy station the most capable ships forward. This posture allows the most rapid response times possible for maritime and joint forces, and brings our most capable ships with the greatest amount of striking power and operational capability to bear in the timeliest manner,” the Navy said in a news release announcing the move.

India successfuly test-fires nuclear-capable missile

India's Dhanush nuke missileFrom RIA Novosti, Dec. 13, 2013:

India successfully test fired a nuclear-capable ballistic missile from a naval ship off the coast of the Orissa state on Sunday, Indian media reported citing the firing range director.

_____________

Note: Orissa is the old name of what today is called Odisha.

_____________

The Dhanush missile with a range of 350 km (217 miles) and payload capacity of 500 kg (1,102 lbs.) is capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads.

The launch was made 35 km off the Chandipur firing range in Orissa.

The missile, which has liquid propellant, is the naval version of India’s indigenously developed surface-to-surface Prithvi missile system.

Its first test launch ended in failure in April 2000 over technical problems related to the take-off stage, but subsequent trials were reported as successful. The latest Dhanush trial was successfully conducted off Orissa coast in March 2007.

India Orissa-Odisha map

Russia, India to hold joint naval exercises in Sea of Japan/East Sea

Sea of JapanGoogle Map of Sea of Japan (click to enlarge)

Russia and India agreed Monday to hold joint naval exercises next year in, of all places, the Sea of Japan, also called East Sea by South Korea.

That surely will ruffle the feathers of both Japan and China!

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Indian counterpart, A.K. Antony, met in Moscow to discuss prospects of bilateral military collaboration. The sides signed a protocol on the development of defense ties, including closer cooperation between all branches of the armed forces.

Since 2003, India and Russia have conducted seven large exercises under the so-called Indra series of joint ground and naval drills. The last such exercise was held between Russian and Indian army units in October at India’s Mahajan field firing range.

In 2011, Russia canceled joint naval drills with India in the Pacific Ocean, citing the tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis in Japan. [Source: RIA Novosti, Nov. 18, 2013]

In May 2011, Russia announced plans to rearm and modernize its military grouping on the Kuril Islands that which fell to Soviet control in the aftermath of WWII, but the ownership of which is contested by Japan.

Construction of two Russian garrisons was completed in 2012. Russian military bases on Iturup and Kunashir – the largest of the island group – would accommodate new forces and provisions for the 18th machine gun-artillery division.

See also:

Elephants near extinction: Muslim jihadists profit from poaching fueled by Chinese buyers

elephant poachingA recently poached elephant, part of a family of six that was killed on or about October 27, brought down by a hail of 21 shots. (Photo: CBS)

Elephants, the largest living terrestrial animal, can live up to 70 years in the wild. They communicate by touch, sight, smell and sound; and use infrasound and seismic communication over long distances. Elephant intelligence has been compared with that of primates and dolphins. They appear to have self-awareness and show empathy for dying or dead individuals of their kind.

But these noble creatures are on the verge of extinction.

The reason: Human greed and vanity that drive a $10 billion a year illicit global trade in ivory, provided by elephant poachers.

Most elephants are killed in Africa, where there are about 300,000 African elephants left, less than half the number that lived on the continent in 1979. In 2012 alone, 35,000 elephants were killed. At that rate, elephants will be extinct in Africa in less than 9 years, by the year 2022.

In Asia, there are an estimated 50,000 Asian elephants left, from India to Vietnam.

Yesterday, Nov. 14, 2013, major steps were taken in Colorado to smash the industry.

At the National Wildlife Property Repository just north of Denver, U.S. officials used rock crushers to pulverize more than 6 tons of confiscated ivory tusks, carvings and jewelry — the bulk of the U.S. “blood ivory” stockpile accumulated over 25 years which represented the killing of more than 2,000 adult elephants — to support the fight against a $10 billion global trade that slaughters tens of thousands of elephants each year.

The items had been seized from smugglers, traders and tourists at U.S. ports of entry after a global ban on the ivory trade went into effect in 1989.

“This is a way to say to people we are not putting a value on ivory. We’re putting a value on the lives of the elephants,” said Azzedine Downes, president of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which works with U.S. agents to enforce animal protection laws.

Not everyone supported the ivory crush. Bob Weisblut, a co-founder of the Florida-based International Ivory Society, said he thought the carvings and tusks should be sold to raise money for anti-poaching efforts. “A lot of this is beautiful art,” Weisblut said. “And it’s a shame to destroy it.”

ivoryCBS News’ Barry Peterson shows the display of seized ivory carvings before they are crushed

The primary destination for smuggled ivory is ever-wealthier China, where owning ivory pieces is a status symbol. Smuggled ivory can bring in more than $1,000 a pound on the streets of Beijing.

The Clinton Global Initiative recently announced an $80 million pledge to fight the increasingly sophisticated illegal ivory trade. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke earlier this week at the premiere of a documentary about the ivory trade called “White Gold”: “The death toll keeps going up because the poachers are now so well armed. They come in on helicopters with automatic weapons, with night-vision goggles.”

Clinton said, “Armed groups like the Janjaweed from Sudan, al-Shabab, which you know is out of Somalia which staged the terrible assault on the mall in Nairobi recently — they use this illicit trade to fund their terrorist activities across America.

And the criminals are getting smarter. Ivory exported before 1989 is still legal, so they discolor tusks by soaking them in a chemical or tea to make it look old, trying to fool inspectors.

The State Department announced Wednesday a $1 million reward for help in dismembering a criminal network that operates out of Laos that runs the ivory from Africa into the Asian markets.

Sources: CBS News; Associated Press

See also “Al-Shabab: Jihadist terrorists who attacked a Nairobi shopping mall,” Sept. 24, 2013.

India to assume bigger share in 5th Generation Fighter Aircraft project with Russia

Russian single-seat Sukhoi T-50 fifth-generation fighterRussian single-seat Sukhoi T-50 fifth-generation fighter

India’s share in research-and-development work for the joint Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) project with Russia is currently limited by India’s domestic industrial capabilities but will gradually increase with the project’s implementation, a Russian military expert said Friday.

India’s The Economic Times newspaper reported on October 17 that Indian military officials were concerned over the country’s work share in the FGFA project, which is currently only 15 percent even though New Delhi is bearing 50 percent of the cost.

According to the paper, India’s defense minister is expected to raise that issue during his visit to Russia beginning November 15.

“The figure cited by the Indian side reflects current capabilities of India’s industry, in particular the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited [HAL] corporation,” said Igor Korotchenko, head of the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Global Arms Trade.

“With the progress in the implementation of this project, we expect the Indian engineers and designers to approach the share determined in the [Russian-Indian] agreement: 50 percent,” Korotchenko said in an exclusive interview with RIA Novosti.

Russia will certainly provide all necessary knowledge and logistics support to Indian specialists, but developing skills and acquiring experience in design and development of advanced fighter aircraft takes a long time and substantial effort, the expert added.

The FGFA project began following a Russian-Indian agreement on cooperation in the development and production of the perspective multirole fighter, signed on October 18, 2007.

The Indian fighter jet will be based on the Russian single-seat Sukhoi T-50 or PAK-FA fifth-generation fighter, which now has four prototypes flying, but it will be designed to meet about 50 specific requirements by the Indian Air Force (IAF).

In December 2010, Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Russian aircraft maker Sukhoi Company signed a preliminary design development contract worth $295 million for the new aircraft.

Currently the $11 billion final design and research-and-development contract is under negotiation between the two countries. The total program is expected to cost India about $25 billion to 30 billion.

The IAF had initially planned to order 166 single-seat and 48 twin-seat fighters, but India’s chief of air staff said in October last year that New Delhi would now go for only 144 single-seat jets, with domestic production slated to begin in 2020.

New China-India border agreement does little to ease tensions

China-India border disputeChina and India agree border pact

By Victor Mallet and Jamil Anderlini
Financial Times
Oct. 23, 2013

India and China signed a new agreement to ease tensions along their disputed Himalayan border on Wednesday, even as Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, admitted that the two Asian powers would take time to resolve their differences.

Indian officials have accused China’s People’s Liberation Army of repeated incursions across the so-called Line of Actual Control in both the western and eastern Himalayas.

This year, about 30 PLA soldiers camped for three weeks 18km inside what had been regarded as Indian-controlled territory in Kashmir, prompting India to threaten to take “every possible step” to defend its interests.

In July, India decided to create a new army “mountain strike corps” of 50,000 troops to protect its border with China in the eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which is claimed by China.

“This is not an easy issue and will take time to resolve,” Mr Singh told Chinese media at the start of a state visit to China this week.

After meeting Li Keqiang, Chinese premier, in Beijing on Wednesday, Mr Singh said they had agreed that peace on the border must remain the foundation for growth of the India-China relationship as negotiations on the border dispute continued. “This will be our strategic benchmark,” he said.

Mr Li said the relationship between the two countries, which account for more than a third of the world’s population, and their emerging economies was “the most important bilateral friendship in the world”.

The agreement on “Border Defence Co-operation”, the fifth such deal since 1993, commits the two armies to “maximum self-restraint” if they come face to face in a disputed area and obliges them to “prevent exchange of fire or armed conflict”.

One clause, Article VI, appears to allow troops to cross into disputed areas at will. “The two sides agree,” it says, “that they shall not follow or tail patrols of the other side in areas where there is no common understanding of the line of actual control in the India-China border areas.”

Uday Bhaskar, an Indian defence analyst, said even the use of the word “border” to describe the 4,000km frontier between the two was awkward. “The fact of the matter is that there is no border – which is why we have the problem,” he said.

Chinese analysts agreed that the latest pact was little more than an interim solution aimed at avoiding an accidental war breaking out between the two sides.

So many of the current problems arise from the line of actual control and both sides have a different understanding which means even after the new agreement is implemented there will still be conflicts and contradictions,” said Huang Yinghong, assistant professor of Asian and Pacific studies at Sun Yat-sen University. “When the political situation changes it is likely we will see the issue being used again to stir up trouble.”

The two countries have pledged to increase two-way trade to $100bn a year by 2015 but last year trade between the neighbours actually fell 10 per cent to $66.6bn.

Indian exports to China, its biggest trading partner in 2011, fell 20 per cent last year, while Chinese exports to India, China’s seventh-largest export destination, fell about 5 per cent.

The latest cross-border agreement was “better than nothing,” but not enough to put overall relations on a firm footing according to Wang Dehua, director of the Center for India Studies at Tongji University. “They need to solve this because it has not only already affected general diplomatic relations and mutual trust but also economic development. Chinese businessmen want to go to India but they are not confident to do so [because of strained relations].”

China humiliated India in a border war in 1962, and since then China has reinforced its position as the stronger of the two both militarily and economically.

H/t CODA’s Sol Sanders

Russia to supply energy for India, incl. 2 more nuclear reactors

Kudankulam nuke plant

Oct. 21, 2013

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh secured commitments Monday from Russia that New Delhi will hope could go some way to providing for the country’s surging energy needs.Singh and Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a joint statement after talks in Moscow that the two countries have agreed on a range of energy issues, spanning from cooperation in electricity production to possible joint oil and gas exploration in the Arctic Sea.

With demand for electricity set to double in India over the coming decade, New Delhi is actively seeking ways to plug the gap.

Singh and Putin said Monday that Russia and India would speed up the signing of a long-anticipated framework agreement to build the third and fourth reactors at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in the southernmost tip of India.

Putin said the first reactor at the plant may even have been set to operate by Monday evening. “I think it could happen in the next few hours,” Putin said after talks with Singh.

Putin said the construction of as many as four more units at Kundankulam was under consideration. The Indian premier said Monday the second Kundankulam unit could be launched in early 2014.

India signed a contract with the Soviet Union to build the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in 1988. Construction started only in 1997 due to political and economic upheaval in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The project involves 1,000-megawatt pressurized water reactors being constructed by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and Russia’s Atomstroyexport company, a subsidiary of Russian nuclear energy company Rosatom.

The construction of the first two units was halted in September 2011 amid protests by local residents demanding the scrapping of the Indo-Russian project in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. Protesters blocked all roads to the plant and would not allow the workers to enter.

Work resumed in March 2012 and the first unit at Kudankulam was commissioned on July 13.

According to Russian experts, negotiations on further construction at the Indian nuclear power plant have been hampered by New Delhi’s strict safety liability regulations that Moscow believes cannot be applied to Soviet-era technology.

The joint statement Monday also said Russia and India would review “the possibility of organizing direct overland transportation of energy supplies from Russia to India.”

It was unclear from the statement what methods of transportation are being proposed. India and Russia are separated by several countries, including Afghanistan and New Delhi’s avowed foe Pakistan.

Singh furthermore reaffirmed India’s interest in taking part in prospecting for energy resources in the Arctic Sea together with leading Russian companies, including the state-run Rosneft.

“We see Russia as a key partner for our energy security,” Singh said Monday.