Wednesday, February 08, 2017

The strongman of Poland’s ruling national-conservative party has stoked a debate that was previously held in only a very limited capacity. In an interview with the daily "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung," Jaroslaw Kaczynski said Europe should be a superpowerwith a nuclear arsenal to rival that of Russia. He conceded that such a program would, however, be very costly and that he did not anticipate such investment. That aside, Kaczynski has broached a taboo subject typically only embraced by individual voices. One example is German parliamentarian Roderich Kiesewetter, of the conservative Christian Democrats, who recently told Reuters news agency that "Europe needs nuclear protection as a deterrent" if the United States were no longer to extend its protection. But how realistic are such ideas? - DW

In a newspaper interview, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, chairman of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), has called for a European nuclear superpower. Is this a debate we really need to have?
http://www.dw.com/en/poland-wants-nuclear-weapons-for-europe/a-37449773
The strongman of Poland’s ruling national-conservative party has stoked a debate that was previously held in only a very limited capacity. In an interview with the daily "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung," Jaroslaw Kaczynski said Europe should be a superpowerwith a nuclear arsenal to rival that of Russia. He conceded that such a program would, however, be very costly and that he did not anticipate such investment.
That aside, Kaczynski has broached a taboo subject typically only embraced by individual voices. One example is German parliamentarian Roderich Kiesewetter, of the conservative Christian Democrats, who recently told Reuters news agency that "Europe needs nuclear protection as a deterrent" if the United States were no longer to extend its protection. But how realistic are such ideas?.....

bth: If the US starts pulling back from NATO then nuclear proliferation is the natural consequence. The same can be said in Asia particularly with South Korea and Japan.


Sunday, February 05, 2017

India Announces Marginal Increase in Defense Budget for Next Fiscal - Sputnik

New Delhi (Sputnik) — Presenting fourth consecutive annual budget for the nation, India's Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley has allocated an overall $40.31 Billion for the defense service, a marginal increase of 5.7% from previous year. "Marginal increase in defense budget is barely adequate to allow for domestic inflation. It is insufficient to cater for the increase in pay and allowances due to the implementation of the award of the Seventh Pay Commission," says Brig Gurmeet Kanwal (Retd), Senior Fellow at Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses (IDSA).... https://sputniknews.com/asia/201702011050237535-budget-india-defense-spendings/

-bth: for all the talk about an expanding Indian defense program, the fact is that it isn't keeping up with inflation or foreign currency rates. It is stagnant at best and a fraction of the Chinese budget. One wonders if it is even adding to its artillery and ammunition reserves. It is certainly not keeping up with aircraft attrition.

Some 2016 Presidential election facts - Brilliant Maps

A few other 2016 election facts for you:
  • As a percentage of eligible voters, Clinton received 28.43% (65,845,063) of all votes compared to Trump’s 27.20% (62,980,160) and Did Not Vote’s 44.37% (102,731,399).
  • Total voter turnout was estimated to be 55.3% of the voting age population and 59.0% of the voting eligible population.
  • It is the 5th election since 1820 when the winner of the popular vote lost the presidency (the others being 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000)
  • Donald Trump received 2,046,656 more votes than Romney did in 2012, but Hilary Clinton received 70,732 fewer votes than Obama did in 2012.
  • Neither Candidate even won a majority of votes cast, Clinton got 48.0% vs Trump’s 45.9%.
  • As a percentage of the entire US population (including those too young or other ineligible to vote) Clinton got votes from 20.30% of the population and Trump got votes from 19.41% of people.
  • Washington DC is the only area in the country where a majority of all eligible voters (whether they voted or not) voted for Clinton (90% of voters, voted for Clinton on a 55.7% turnout). In the other 6 states listed above, victories were simple pluralities.

US-backed Syrian forces launch new offensive on Raqqa - al Jazeera

....According to Kurdish media, SDF spokesperson Jihan Sheikh Ahmed said they started a new phase to liberate the villages in the east part of Raqqa, with the support of civilians from the region.
Al Jazeera's Stefanie Dekker, reporting from the Turkish city of Gaziantep along the Syrian border, said that the offensive was initially launched in November last year and was being conducted in phases.
"The first phase was pushing from the north. Second one was pushing from the west. And now, in the third phase, the forces are trying to push from the east," she said.
"There is also heavy fighting that has been going on north of Raqqa city, where the SDF are backed by coalition air strikes.
"Also overnight, the coalition forces took out the last bridge crossing the Euphrates. There were five bridges and all of them were taken out."...

-bth separate said the destruction of the two bridges over the Euphrates also cut off the water supply to at least part of the city. Essentially the city is being encircled for siege.