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The National Interest online seeks to provide a space for vigorous debate and exchange not only among Americans but between U.S. and overseas interlocutors. This is the new home for informed analysis and frank but reasoned exchanges on foreign policy and international affairs.
Updated: 3 weeks 4 days ago

Will China Produce Another Coronavirus?

Sat, 01/02/2020 - 14:36

Roger Bate

Security, Asia

The conditions for an epidemic are still there.

As we settle down to the inevitable spread — but relatively minor impact — of the coronavirus, it is worth thinking about the causes of the disease’s spread and whether any of them are likely to change.

Will Beijing clamp down on wet markets, where live wildlife is killed there and sold to consumers? Part of the reason these markets are popular is that the Chinese consumer is so distrustful of Chinese government-run entities (not just limited to the many state-run businesses), that they do not trust they are getting what they demand unless they see it with their own eyes. This concern is widespread across China. I’ve encountered it with medicines, pet foods, and milk. I recall speaking to Chinese mothers who refused to buy Chinese milk formula because they were so worried about Chinese manufacturing and knew (not just suspected) that Beijing didn’t care about oversight.

The only way to improve matters is for Beijing to actually regulate its businesses properly, not just turn a blind eye to politically-favored companies, or execute anyone out of favor in grand style to demonstrate they’re serious about matters. This isn’t likely to happen soon. Even if the public wet markets are closed, I doubt the practice of paying to see your food killed will go away until distrust is removed.

What chance is there that the media will improve in China? And by this I mean: Will media be able to report more widely and do the job western media does? China has improved markedly in this regard in the past decade, so there is some hope here. But the institutional power systems mean that if regional and local leaders fear blowback from Beijing far more than media exposure, then the kinds of early stage cover-ups we’ve seen with coronavirus are likely to continue.

China hawks and protectionists are already using the coronavirus as a way to pull back from business engagement with the country. The problem is that when “the big one” happens — when a highly infectious disease with a fairly long (over two weeks) incubation period and high mortality rate occurs, most likely emanating from China — a pullback of engagement won’t really protect us. We should instead be encouraging China to change. Only then will a future pandemic be merely painful, rather than disastrous.

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A $5,000 Gun? Meet the Laugo Alien

Sat, 01/02/2020 - 14:30

Charlie Gao

Technology,

One of the more notable pistols to come out in recent years, the Laugo Alien incorporates a variety of rare pistol features into a single, sleek package.

The Laugo Alien is one of the more notable pistols to come out in recent years. Designed to give the shooter a maximum mechanical advantage when shooting, the Alien incorporates a variety of rare pistol features into a single, sleek package. However, the cost of all of that is an extremely high price tag: the Alien is estimated to cost around $5,000.

But are the mechanical features worth it? Does the Alien stand a chance at being successful?

Everything about the Alien seems to be aimed at making the pistol shoot flat, fast, and with low recoil. The barrel is placed on the lower half of the pistol’s long end to absolutely minimize the bore axis. This is atypical, most pistols, including Glocks, Sig Sauers, and H&Ks place the barrel on the top half of the slide, with the recoil spring underneath the barrel. On the Alien, the recoil spring is above the barrel. The barrel is also fixed to the frame; the Alien relies on a gas-delayed blowback system similar to the H&K P7 to reduce the velocity at which the slide travels rearward. The fixed barrel allows it to be “free floated” in the frame for better accuracy.

The Alien’s “slide” itself is also reduced significantly in mass. Unlike most pistols, the slide only encompasses the sides and rear of the pistol. This allows the top to remain static during the firing cycle, making tracking the sights during a shot. The reduced slide profile also reduces reciprocating mass, making the recoil impulse smaller and smoother. The fixed upper frame also has benefits for red dots, which undergo far less stress on the Alien than on other pistols. The partial slide design is reminiscent of the Wolf Ultramatic SV, another similar pistol with fixed sights and a limited roller-locked reciprocating slide.

The rest of the pistol is fairly standard. The frame is shaped similar to other modern raceguns, with a similar grip angle, large undercut behind the trigger guard, and a readily reachable thumb mag release and slide catch. The pistol is striker fired, likely due to the less mechanical complexity required to make a striker fired pistol with an ultra-low bore axis. Safety is maintained via the use of internal safeties and a Glock-style trigger safety.

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See This Stealth Fighter? Iran Could Shoot It Down in a War

Sat, 01/02/2020 - 14:11

TNI Staff

Security,

But it wouldn't be easy.

Key Point: If by some bizarre circumstance the F-22 is embroiled in a dogfight with the F-14, the chances are the Raptor will kill the Tomcat unless the American pilot suffers from extremely bad luck or makes a serious error.

A full-scale military campaign against Iran would require the United States to destroy the Iranian air force—which to this day flies American-built warplanes. The best of Iran’s decrepit fighter aircraft fleet is the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. The Imperial Iranian Air Force purchased 80 of the powerful fourth generation fighters before the 1979 Islamic revolution, but deliveries were halted at 79 aircraft. Additionally, Iran had purchased 714 Hughes (now Raytheon) AIM-54A Phoenix long-range semi-active/active radar guided air-to-air missiles, which have a range of roughly 100 nautical miles.

When the F-14A was developed, it was amongst the most capable fighters developed by the United States during the late 1960s. The jet entered service with the U.S. Navy in 1974 equipped with the AWG-9 long-range pulse Doppler radar, which had a range of over 115 nautical miles and was the first American radar set to incorporate a track while scan mode to allow for a multiple shot capability. Coupled with the AIM-54, the AWG-9 could target six enemy bombers simultaneously. On paper, the Tomcat provided the fleet with a potent capability—though the reality did not quite meet the Navy’s public relations hype.

Iran has upgraded its Tomcats with new avionics and potentially new weapons, but only a handful of Tehran’s F-14s are in flyable condition—perhaps as few as 20 aircraft. However, other than perhaps 20 Russian-made Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrums, the venerable Tomcat is the Islamic Iranian Air Force’s most capable fighter. In the event of a war, the F-14 would be Iran’s first line of defense against an American onslaught.

The stealthy Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor air superiority fighter would almost certainly lead an American attack. Compared to the antiquated F-14, the Raptor is a technological marvel and is equipped with some of the most sophisticated sensors ever developed for a military aircraft.

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Was Famous British Leader Winston Churchill Really a Hero?

Sat, 01/02/2020 - 14:01

Sam Edwards

Politics, Europe

We break it down. Winston Churchill is again the subject of a row over reputation: is the man once voted the greatest Briton in a BBC poll still a “hero”? Or is he, as shadow chancellor John McDonnell claimed when asked to choose recently, a “villain”?

To be clear, McDonnell was referring specifically to Churchill’s actions during the Tonypandy riots of 1910, in which he deployed troops to control striking miners, a decision which led to the death of one man. But such a nuance has largely been lost in the ongoing furore as members of parliament from both sides of the chamber have lined up to make their stance known. Even some of McDonnell’s own Labour Party have indicated their disapproval, with MP Ian Austin declaring that Churchill was indeed “a real British hero, the greatest-ever Briton”.

In part, the angry response is connected to the fact that Churchill the war leader – always a high-profile figure in Britain – has recently been back in the public eye. In 2017, he was the subject of two films, Jonathan Teplitzky’s Churchill and Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour. And he has also featured with some prominence in Netflix’s popular series about Elizabeth II, The Crown (played with relish by John Lithgow).

These have each offered varying visions of Churchill. In Teplitzky’s take – rather different to the usual fare – we see a pre-D-Day Churchill increasingly in disagreement with his Generals and haunted by history (especially his role in the disaster at Gallipoli in 1915).

But for all such interesting complexities in Teplitzky’s film, it is surely telling that the more successful of the two 2017 films was the one which provided a far more familiar view of “Winnie the war hero”. For just as the chaos of Brexit broke, Darkest Hour took audiences back to the crisis moment of 1940, as the Wehrmacht crashed through the French Army and as Europe fell to Nazi tyranny. Enter Churchill, played by Gary Oldman, to rally the troops, a job which even sees him – in a rather preposterous scene – talking with the common folk on the London tube.

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The Pentagon is Testing Flying Aircraft Carriers That Can Launch Swarms of Gremlins (Here’s How it Would Work)

Sat, 01/02/2020 - 14:00

Sebastien Roblin

Security,

These expendable but reusable short-range drones can operate in defended airspace and possibly overwhelm enemies with swarming attacks.

In November 2019, an old C-130A transport plane took to the skies near Salt Lake City, Utah bearing what appeared to be a hi-tech cruise missile slung under a pylon on one wing.

The Hercules released the missile-like X-61A Gremlin Air Vehicle (GAV), which abruptly rotated stubby wings that had been tucked under its belly into lit-generating flight position. A turbojet engine came to life with a flash and began trailing a plume of smoke. 

Over the next 101 minutes, both air- and ground-side controllers took turns operating the 1,500-pound Gremlin’s flight control system—the drone maneuvers by tilting its X-shaped tail fins—and recording telemetry transmitted by the drone’s onboard datalink.

Finally, the Gremlin engaged a drogue parachute to begin a landing and recovery cycle. But then the second main parachute failed to engage, and the X-61 slammed into the ground at high speed, destroying the prototype.

Despite not quite sticking the landing, Gremlin program officials maintain they were satisfied with the prototype’s performance in every other stage of the flight and that they were confident that the final malfunction wouldn’t impede future tests. 

In fact, the next flight test due the spring of 2020 will see the Gremlin attempt a more difficult task: docking with its C-130A mothership for in-flight recovery. The program eventually aims to demonstrate the capability for a Hercules to recover four Gremlins in less than thirty minutes. Fortunately, four Gremlins prototypes remain after the accident.

To recover a Gremlin, the mothership first deploys a “bullet” capture probe towed from the cargo bay, a system similar to the flexible mid-flight refueling probes used by the U.S. Navy. The probe latches onto a hook that flips up from the Gremlin’s spine.

Once the X-61 has docked onto the probe, it rotates it tucks its stub wings laterally back into its belly. Then operators reel the Gremlin towards the Hercule, where they will eventually be plucked into the cargo bay by the pincers of an extendible mechanical arm.

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The Allies World War II Battle Of Savo Island Was A True Naval Disaster

Sat, 01/02/2020 - 13:56

Warfare History Network

History,

Defeat in the Battle of Savo Island was a stunning blow to Allied naval forces off Guadalcanal.

Amid rain, lightning, and dark, the British admiral and American general picked their way through choppy seas to the transport USS McCawley, off the coast of Guadalcanal. Maj. Gen. Archibald Vandegrift of the U.S. Marine Corps was exhausted. Britain’s Rear Admiral Victor Alexander Crutchley, commanding the Allied Screening Force, an Australian-American mix of six heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and eight destroyers, looked “ready to pass out.”

So did the senior officer on McCawley they were going to see, Rear Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner, who commanded the American amphibious assault forces that were riding waves off the invaded islands of Guadalcanal and Tulagi that evening.

There was good reason for all three men to be fatigued. In the three days since they had led the invasion, none had been able to sleep. Now the three officers were losing their carrier-based air cover, and the transports would have to pull out without fully unloading their supplies. This was a grave issue, but their crisis was about to become far worse—in minutes, they would be helpless spectators to the greatest defeat at sea in the history of the United States and Royal Australian Navies.

Operation Watchtower was the first Allied Pacific offensive of World War II. In early 1942, Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King was determined to drive the Japanese north through the Solomon Islands chain and up that jungle road to Tokyo.

The task was given to Vice Admiral Robert Ghormley, and the plan called for an invasion of two islands in the Solomons, the capital at Tulagi and Guadalcanal, a larger island south of Tulagi. Between them sat Savo Island, a dead volcano.

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Dead in the Dark: How Good is Chinese Miltiary Grade Night Vision Gear?

Sat, 01/02/2020 - 13:45

Charlie Gao

Technology,

Because wars don't stop at 5 pm.

Recently, various Chinese military night vision units have been showing up on the Chinese domestic market. This provides an interesting opportunity to evaluate the capability of such units, as manufacturers publish the specifications and characteristics of these units. However, as with most night vision technology, there are caveats. Typically a night vision unit consists of two basic elements, the image intensifier (I2) tube, and the housing. The tube generally is the largest determinant of the quality and resolution of the image, while the housing affects how the unit is mounted, how durable it is, and its other ergonomic properties. While the housings available on the civilian market are fairly representative of Chinese military stock, the I2 tubes in the housings may not be representative of what’s actually issued to the Chinese military.

The BBG-011A is an interesting example of a Chinese military night vision unit on the civilian market. The unit is clearly a clone of the Thales LUCIE night vision goggles, a popular European NVG that has seen use with the German Bundeswehr and French Army. The LUCIE is notable for being relatively “flat”, having the form factor of a rectangular box with a lens in the upper right corner. The offset lens is controversial among users of the LUCIE, with users often complaining that the offset lens makes “close up” work unintuitive and clumsy. However, it’s possible that the lens is offset to interface well with carryhandle mounted optics on the FAMAS rifle, which makes sense given that the Chinese QBZ-95 is set up in a similar way.

The BBG-011A on the civilian market comes with one of three I2 tubes, the NT-3, CNT-4, and DNT-6. NT-3s have figures of merit (FOMs) of around 1200, CNT-4s have FOMs of around 1440, and DNT-6s have FOMs of around 1960. DNT-6 tubes also have autogating technology, which helps preserve tube life when bright light sources are viewed through the tube. All of the I2 tubes the BBG-011A is available with are Gen 2+, which is behind the Gen 3 tubes commonly used by the US military. Most US military NVGs have FOMs of over 2000, with some even going above 2500. Modern Generation 3 military-used Chinese tubes are probably over 2000 FOM, but are not seen on civilian-available examples, and would probably not be used in the BBG-011A, as it is an older design.

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Cut off the Cash: How to Crush Mexico's Drug Cartels Once and For All

Sat, 01/02/2020 - 13:41

Andrés Martínez-Fernández

Security,

The U.S. and Mexico can debilitate the illicit financial networks of cartels. Here is how to do it. 

2019 closed out another violent year in Mexico with a record 34,582 murders, largely driven by organized crime. High-profile killings, including an October massacre by drug cartels targeting women and children, have brought renewed attention to the deteriorating security situation in Mexico under President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). Events such as the failed capture of the son of notorious kingpin El Chapo Guzmán also highlight the continued capacity of cartels to overwhelm Mexico’s security forces. To reduce the overwhelming capacity of organized crime, the U.S. and Mexico should boost cooperation against organized crime with a particular emphasis on debilitating illicit financial structures to choke off vital funds to criminal organizations.

According to the State Department, billions of dollars are laundered through the Mexican financial system each year, primarily linked to drug trafficking and organized crime. This money is used to purchase high-powered weapons, pay hitmen, bribe government officials, and finance other activities that empower criminal organizations to keep security forces at bay.

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How the Mad Scientists at DARPA are Turning Cargo Planes Into Flying Drone Bases

Sat, 01/02/2020 - 13:30

Michael Peck

Security,

Drone aircraft carriers in the sky?

Current drones, like the Reaper and Global Hawk, are true unmanned aircraft: they must operate from an airfield, just like manned aircraft have done for more than a century.

But what if the airfield was actually an airplane?

DARPA, the Pentagon’s pet research agency, has successfully conducted tested launching and recovering a drone by a manned aircraft in mid-air. A C-130 transport became a mothership to an X-61A Gremlin drone.

“The test in late November at the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah included one captive-carry mission aboard a C-130A and an airborne launch and free flight lasting just over an hour-and-a-half,” according to a DARPA announcement.

The idea of the Gremlins program is to demonstrate a manned aircraft can dispatch drones toward a target and then recover them, all while staying out of range of enemy air defenses. “Once Gremlins complete their mission, the transport aircraft would retrieve them in the air and carry them home, where ground crews would prepare them for their next use within 24 hours,” said DARPA.

DARPA provided few details about the November test, other than saying that it met all objectives, including gathering launch and recovery, gathering flight data and testing air- and ground-based command systems. “The vehicle performed well, giving us confidence we are on the right path and can expect success in our follow-on efforts,” said Gremlins program manager Scott Wierzbanowski. “We got a closer look at vehicle performance for launch, rate capture, engine start, and transition to free flight. We had simulated the performance on the ground, and have now fully tested them in the air. We also demonstrated a variety of vehicle maneuvers that helped validate our aerodynamic data.”

Kratos, one of the subcontractors on the development team, said the one hour and 41 minute test flight included “deploying the GAV [Gremlins Air Vehicle] docking arm.” The test also included a parachute recovery of a Gremlin as part of the test: the drone would normally be recovered in flight.

Ironically, the dictionary defines “gremlin” as “an imaginary mischievous sprite regarded as responsible for an unexplained problem or fault, especially a mechanical or electronic one.” Indeed, a fault did occur during the test, DARPA admitted.

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What Will North Korea Do If Coronavirus Comes to Its Shores?

Sat, 01/02/2020 - 13:25

Robert E. Kelly

Security, Asia

Pyongyang has neither the resources nor the administrative culture – transparency, empiricism divorced from ideology, technocracy – to respond to a genuine epidemic. Sustained foreign assistance and, failing that, brutal repression would almost certainly be necessary to prevent a local plague.

As the coronavirus spreads, especially in east Asia, the response of states with weak healthcare systems and low transparency will come into question. The United Nations has already identified this as its major administrative concern in its global response. Rumors are already circulating that China has far more cases than it has admitted, and there is gross inequality in the Chinese health care system. The Chinese Communist Party is hyper-sensitive to the regime’s portrayal in foreign media, and we know that the Soviet Union’s first impulse after the Chernobyl incident was to deny it.

North Korea obviously falls into this category. The regime notoriously lies and dissembles. If corona makes it there, the regime’s first inclination will be to deny it. Similarly, the health care system has been broken for decades. Much necessary care in North Korea beyond basic necessities is either not provided at all or comes from foreign humanitarianism. And now fears of corona’s potency has driven off those foreign workers.

This is likely why the regime has called the struggle against corona a ‘fight for national survival.’ Pyongyang has neither the resources nor the administrative culture – transparency, empiricism divorced from ideology, technocracy – to respond to a genuine epidemic. Sustained foreign assistance and, failing that, brutal repression would almost certainly be necessary to prevent a local plague.

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Time to Buy Your Next Laptop Computer? Here Is What You Should Know.

Sat, 01/02/2020 - 13:00

Sebastien Roblin

Technology,

What you choose reflects not only what your budget is, but also your personal preferences.

Choosing a laptop computer from a bewildering array of options is a task that most Americans have to face today—and unfortunately, it can be maddeningly unclear just how to get the best value for your money.

That’s too bad, because your choice of laptop can matter a lot: one study concludes that the average Americans spends around four hours per day on a computer, whether it be reading articles, writing reports, responding to emails, editing photos, or playing computer games. 

The hundreds or thousands of hours spent doing those activities will be adversely or favorably affected by your choice of computer.

The key to getting the most satisfying laptop for your buck is figuring out what level of performance you need from it, and in what circumstances you intend to use it.

Some people will only need their laptop for basic use: browsing the internet, Interacting on social media, watching videos, taking care of email and light word processing. For such tasks, you can find very decent laptops for $400 to $600, and you can find small, lightweight ones that only clock in around two or three pounds—though you’ll want to keep an eye on battery life if you like to roam around with your laptop a lot.

However, some people will require more from their laptops. Perhaps you need to keep a lot of applications or browser tabs open at once while working on projects; perhaps you need a superior quality media viewing experience; perhaps you need to manage a large media library or database.

Higher performing professional or power laptops can range in price between $600 to $1,300. You can find more expensive models but probably don’t need them unless you’re into gaming or Macbooks, as explained below. 

For your extra dollars, you may get a better screen, more RAM memory and faster processors for smoother performance, additional disk space, and more ports to plug in USB devices and other peripherals.

Some traits to look for in a power laptop include a larger disk drive (512 gigabytes to 1 terabyte) or a faster 256 or 512-gigabyte solid-state drive (SSD); an IPS monitor; at least 4 but preferably 8 to 16 gigabytes of RAM, and a quad-core processor.

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The Tank Battle At Kursk Was Where Nazi Germany Lost World War II

Sat, 01/02/2020 - 12:55

Warfare History Network

History,

It went down in Russia.

With the German Sixth Army destroyed at Stalingrad, the Soviet juggernaut lunged west and southwest across the River Donets. The Soviets seemed unstoppable, recapturing the major city of Kharkov from the Germans on February 14, 1943. However, Field Marshal Erich von Manstein was only waiting for the Soviets to overextend themselves.

Once the Soviet armor ran dry of fuel and low on ammunition, Manstein unleashed Army Group South’s riposte. Fresh panzer formations sliced into the startled Soviet flanks, ripping apart two Soviet Fronts (Army Groups). Manstein’s brilliant counteroffensive restored the southern front and culminated in an SS frontal assault and a triumphant recapture of Kharkov.

Meanwhile, to the north of the Donets campaign, the Soviet winter offensive was held at bay before Orel by Field Marshal Günther von Kluge’s Army Group Center. Operations everywhere then bogged down to a standstill as the Russian spring thawed the frozen earth and turned it to mud. The thick “rasputitsa” clung to steel tank tracks, to truck tires, to the hoofs of tired horses, and to the boots of exhausted soldiers.

The front was left with a gargantuan Soviet salient, 150 miles long and 100 miles wide, bulging around the town of Kursk between the two German army groups. The Kursk salient was consequently the target of the last, great German summer offensive, ending with the legendary tank battles in the environs of Oboian and Prokhorovka.

With the third summer of the German-Soviet war approaching, the Red Army war machine had grown more powerful while that of the Germans proportionally declined. Despite Von Manstein’s recent victory at Kharkov, only the most fanatical senior German commanders, along with Hitler, believed that the Soviet Union could be decisively defeated. A stalemate, however, was still in the cards, but only if the Germans managed to retain the initiative. To do so, Col. Gen. Kurt Zeitzler, chief of Army general staff, proposed eliminating the Kursk salient.

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What Prince Andrew's Scandal Can Teach Us About Why Some People Don't Sweat

Sat, 01/02/2020 - 12:35

Adam Taylor

Public Health, Europe

Really.

Sweating is a controversial topic at the moment. In his extraordinary recent BBC interview, Prince Andrew dismissed some of the allegations made against him by Virginia Giuffre (known previously as Virginia Roberts) on the grounds that he couldn’t sweat at the time – she had claimed he had been “profusely sweating”. During the interview, Prince Andrew, who has categorically denied all of the claims against him, said:

I didn’t sweat at the time because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenaline in the Falklands War, when I was shot at … it was almost impossible for me to sweat.

 

But what makes us sweat, why do we do it – and can some conditions prevent us from doing it at all?

The human body is an amazing entity and responds to thousands of internal and external signals every day. These responses enable us to survive in rapidly changing conditions.

The skin is the largest and heaviest organ of the human body. It is calculated to weigh approximately three to 4.5kg and, over the course of your life, you will lose about 35kg of skin. Skin constantly repairs and replaces itself and performs many functions. It protects the body against pathogens, provides insulation, synthesises vitamin D, provides sensation and most importantly regulates temperature.

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Will Maryland Protect Its Childrens' Lemonade Stands?

Sat, 01/02/2020 - 12:30

GianCarlo Canaparo

Politics, Americas

Here's an opportunity to foil Big Government.

The Maryland House Environment and Transportation Committee on Tuesday heard testimony about a bill that would prevent local governments from outlawing children’s lemonade stands on private property.

Yes, you read that right. It’s illegal in Maryland for children to run lemonade stands in their families’ yards unless they obtain all the licenses, permits, and inspections needed to run a food-service business.

Just ask Xander Alpier, who testified at the hearing. 

In 2011, when he was just 6, Montgomery County fined his family $500 (but later waived it after public outcry) for running an illegal lemonade stand to raise money for the Georgetown Children’s Cancer Center.

They were lucky they got just a $500 fine. The county could have imposed thousands of dollars in fines and sent them to jail.

Maryland law makes it a crime punishable by up to 90 days in jail to operate a lemonade stand without all the proper licenses and permits. A second offense could bring up to a year in jail.

A bipartisan pair of Maryland delegates—Neil Parrott, a Republican, and Steve Johnson, a Democrat—think it’s not right to punish children for this classic foray into entrepreneurship.

At the hearing on Jan. 28, Parrott called lemonade stands as American as apple pie and baseball, and Johnson explained that his own childhood lemonade stand was a building block of his own entrepreneurship.

The bill, HB 52, is narrow in scope. It applies only to the sale of lemonade or other non-alcoholic beverages by children on private property.   

Members of the committee seemed supportive of the bill. Democratic Delegates Vaughn Stewart and Brooke Lierman, and Republican Delegate Gerald Clark, all expressed support for it.

Only one delegate, Democrat Anne Healey of Prince George’s County, expressed opposition to it. Healey asked why the state should take away local governments’ power to regulate lemonade stands. 

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Firearm Fact: Sig Sauer Is Actually Split Between Two Companies

Sat, 01/02/2020 - 12:00

Charlie Gao

Technology,

And one of them is 'importing' guns into the U.S. Yes, this is strange. We explain why.

At SHOT Show 2020, there was an interesting announcement that flew under the radar. Sig Sauer GmbH announced that it was partnering with Legacy Sports International to import Sig Sauer firearms into the United States. This may strike some people as weird, seeing that there is a Sig Sauer in the United States that produces firearms domestically. But the new arrangement illustrates the complete split between Sig Sauer, Inc. in the United States, and Sig Sauer GmbH in Germany.

While Sig Sauer, Inc. used to be Sig Sauer GmbH’s importer, they have since split off and become their own company, with their own production, marketing, and research and design teams. Only a few designs in the Sig Sauer, Inc. lineup retain the German heritage of the original Sig Sauer guns. Both Sig Sauer, Inc. and Sig Sauer, GmbH are owned by the same holding company, L&O Holdings. L&O also owns Swiss Arms AG, which continues to produce “Sig” rifles, the Sig 550-series of rifles that were originally designed by SIG AG.

Despite being owned by the same holding, the extent to which Sig Sauer, Inc. and Sig Sauer, GmbH collaborate since their corporate split is disputed. In 2010, Sig Sauer GmbH reportedly manufactured SP2022 pistols, which were then sent to Sig Sauer, Inc. in the United States under the understanding that they would be sold in the USA. Sig Sauer, Inc. reportedly then sold the pistols to Colombian police, violating the initial export agreement. Sig Sauer, Inc. and Sig Sauer, GmbH also collaborated to import P210 Legend pistols to the U.S. market in 2012, though this was only a limited run. Sig Sauer GmbH and Sig Sauer, Inc. also collaborated on “main line” Sig Sauer pistols by shipping parts and frames over for assembly in the United States, namely the P226, P220 and SP2022, all pistols originally meant for the European market. However, full production of these guns has since been fully shifted over to the United States by most accounts.

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Here's How You Can Legally Fly With Your Gun on a Plane

Sat, 01/02/2020 - 11:55

Gun News Daily

Security, Americas

It is possible.

In 2019, the Transportation Security Administration confiscated more firearms than ever before. 4,432 guns were seized by TSA at 278 airports nationwide.

The airport with the most gun confiscations was the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, with a total number of 323 firearms. On top of those staggering numbers is that fact that 87% of the total firearms found were loaded.

Already, only two weeks into the new year, the first gun was confiscated at Newark Liberty International Airport.  If you need to travel with a weapon, don’t become a statistic. It’s not illegal to fly with a firearm, but there are a very specific set of rules and guidelines that need to be followed in order to do so.  Below, the most important rules are detailed for how to transport firearms on an airplane. Before traveling, head to the official TSA website for the most up-to-date state, local, and national regulations.

How To Pack Your Firearm for Air Travel

In order to travel with a firearm, the first step is that it must be unloaded.  Absolutely no live round of ammunition can be in the chamber or cylinder.

Ammunition cannot even be in a magazine inserted in the weapon.  Once unloaded, the gun needs to be locked in a hard-sided case and submitted as a checked bag directly upon entering the airport.

This case can be locked with a key, code, fingerprints, etc.

Only the owner of the weapon should have the key or code to the case. Firearms cannot, in any circumstances, be transported in carry-on baggage.

How To Check Your Ammunition

Ammunition also has its own set of rules for being transported by air.  Like firearms, ammunition is prohibited in carry-on baggage, but can travel in checked baggage if packaged and declared appropriately.  Magazines and ammunition clips must be securely boxed, or included in the hard-sided and locked case with your unloaded firearm.

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Imperial Japan's Two Best Military Leaders Could Not Agree On How To Beat America

Sat, 01/02/2020 - 11:30

Warfare History Network

Historty,

Tojo and Yamamoto demonstrated the divergent views between the Japanese Army and Navy on military strategy in World War II.

Three generations of Americans wrongly believe that General Hideki Tojo and Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto were equally culpable in starting the Pacific War. This is untrue.

The Imperial Army was ascendant over the Imperial Navy throughout the modern period, and it was usually led by one or another faction of highly aggressive, hegemonistic officers. As the junior service, the Imperial Navy could do little but accede to the will of the generals and support the generals’ expansionist policies.

Two Officers of Very Different Backgrounds

Tojo, who was born the son of a junior Army officer in 1884, was known by his peers as “Fighting Tojo” and “Razor Brain.” He was marked for high station by the character traits those nicknames encapsulate. His only direct exposure to the West was in postings to Switzerland in 1919 and Germany in 1921. Thereafter, his rise to power began when he was a junior major general serving in China in 1935. Anti-Soviet and pro-German, Tojo lobbied for war against the former so forcefully as to rattle other pro-war Army officers. He became chief of staff of the Kwantung Army in China in 1937, vice minister of war in May 1938, and inspector general of Army aviation in December 1938. He served as vice premier under Prince Fumimaro Konoye, then became minister of war on July 18, 1941. He finally—perhaps inevitably—took the helm as both minister of war and prime minister on October 16, 1941. While Tojo backed the final diplomatic efforts to avoid war in the Pacific and Southeast Asia, he had long since concluded that an American and British economic stranglehold against Japan was intolerable in the immediate term, that if diplomacy failed by early December 1941, war must ensue.

Except in the area of sheer brain power, Isoroku Yamamoto was Tojo’s polar opposite. Also, though he commanded the Japanese fleet when the war started, he was more than a few rungs down from Tojo when war planning began. Tojo was the policymaker, Yamamoto the policy implementer.

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Yes, Prototyping for the Air Force's New Sixth Generation Stealth Fighter Has Already Begun

Sat, 01/02/2020 - 11:13

Kris Osborn

Technology, Americas

Wait, already?

Key Point: What about the trillion spent on the F-35? 

(Washington, D.C.) Drone fighter jets, hypersonic attack planes, artificial intelligence, lasers, electronic warfare and sensors woven into the fuselage of an aircraft - are all areas of current technological exploration for the Air Force as it begins early prototyping for a new, 6th-Generation fighter jet to emerge in the 2030s and 2040s.

While the initiative, called Next Generation Air Dominance(NGAD), has been largely conceptual for years, Air Force officials say current “prototyping” and “demonstrations” are informing which technologies the service will invest in for the future.

“We have completed an analysis of alternatives and our acquisition team is working on the requirements. We are pretty deep into experimenting with hardware and software technologies that will help us control and exploit air power into the future,” Gen. James Holmes, Commander, Air Combat Command, told reporters at the Association of the Air Force Air, Space and Cyber Conference.

Part of the progress with the program, according to Air Force Acquisition Executive William Roper, is due to new methods of digital engineering.

“I have spent six months with our industry leaders and NGAD team looking at examples of applied digital engineering. I’m impressed with what they have done,” Roper.

Digital engineering, as Roper explains it, brings what could be called a two-fold advantage. It enables weapons developers to assess technologies, material configurations and aircraft models without needing to build all of them -- all while paradoxically enabling builders to “bend metal” and start building prototypes earlier than would otherwise be possible.

“The reward is more than the risk,” Roper said, speaking of the need to “try something different” and pursue newer acquisition methods which at times results in prototyping earlier in the process than the traditional process typically involves.

The Air Force Research Laboratory has been working with the acquisition community on digital engineering techniques, often explored through modeling and simulation, for many years.

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1 NATO Ally Might Wish It Never Bought the F-35 Stealth Fighter

Sat, 01/02/2020 - 11:00

David Axe

Security, Europe

It's expensive.

Key point: There are not a lot of aircraft in Denmark's air force.

The U.S. ambassador to Denmark wants the Nordic country to buy more American-designed F-35 stealth fighters.

Ambassador Carla Sands’s advocacy for a “made-in-America” warplane should come as no surprise. But leaving aside the benefit to U.S. industry, Sands has a point. Denmark has too few fighters.

Of course, it’s in part the fault of the country’s determination to buy the F-35 that it stands little chance of growing its fighter fleet. The radar-evading warplane probably wasn’t the best choice for an air arm that struggles to maintain adequate aerial capacity for a meaningful contribution to international security.

Sands “is concerned that NATO’s aircraft power and surveillance capacities are not enough in the Arctic and that Denmark should fulfill three-year-old promises to strengthen defense and surveillance there,” Danish news outlet CPH Post reported.

Ambassador Sands referred to a report from the Ministry of Defense on the tasks in the Arctic from 2016, which show concern about the presence of Russian soldiers in the Arctic. Sands also believes the report shows that the lack of satellites means that Denmark does not monitor Greenland’s skies or waters well enough.

“There are not a lot of aircraft in Denmark. You have 38 to 40 F-16 aircraft today. It is actually a reduction in the number of aircraft, and Denmark should probably look into it,” Sands told Jyllands-Posten. However, according to the Ministry of Defense, Denmark only owns 30 F-16 planes

The Danish fighter fleet is about to get even smaller as it takes on the F-35.

On May 11, 2016, the government of Denmark recommended that lawmakers approve the purchase of just 27 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters from U.S. firm Lockheed Martin in order to replace the Scandinavian country’s F-16s.

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Why So Few U.S. Generals Were Killed In World War II

Sat, 01/02/2020 - 10:30

Warfare History Network

Histoty,

Yet millions more still perished.

General George S. Patton, Jr., once said, “An army is like a piece of cooked spaghetti. You can’t push it, you have to pull it after you.” He was referring to commanders being leaders as he had little use for commanders that were not out in front of their units. This attitude was the norm in the U.S. military in World War II, and the amazement is not that a few dozen general officers were lost, but that U.S. armed forces did not lose more!

Leaders being out front or is not a unique military concept, nor exclusively that of the United States. Since the earliest days of recorded warfare, the good leaders have always been at the forefront of battle.

Some nations have a unique concept of control over military leadership. This was especially evident in the Soviet Union in the years before the onset of World War II. During the war, Hitler not only directed military battles, but controlled the general officer corps to an incredible, and as it turned out, disastrous degree.

Russia and Germany Both Hard Up for Officers

A few years before World War II Soviet Dictator Josef Stalin purged the Soviet military of most of its high ranking and experienced officers. During his frenzied attack on the officer ranks through the end of 1938, Stalin had executed at least 65,000 officers, including 13 of 15 generals of the army, 93 percent of all officers ranked lieutenant general and above, and 58 percent of all officers ranked colonel through major general. Ironically, one of the few senior commanders to survive, Dimitri Pavlov, would be executed within days of Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union because of incompetence.

After the war started, Germany was equally hard on general officers. During the course of the war, Hitler executed 84 German generals, and another 135 generals were killed in action.

Demoting Officers Who Fall Behind Expectations

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