WASHINGTON — Flint Mayor Karen Weaver on Wednesday called Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s response to the crisis over lead-contaminated water in her city — including asking the Legislature for $28.5 million in immediate funding — “good first steps,” but not nearly enough to address the situation. Speaking at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington,…
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By Nate Nkumbu
Election Season is upon us here in the United States but across the Atlantic, France is also getting ready for a very important election that could have global implications.
With a whole range of issues that are in the voter’s mind from national security to the economy, this election season will prove to be one that could shape France’s future at home and abroad.
After a wave of terrorist attacks that have plagued the country in recent years and a meddling economy that has failed to take off, many in France are willing to turn to the far right of the political spectrum for salvation and safety.
But before going into too much detail, let’s do a little overview of how the French political system actually works.
The country is led by a President, who is elected every five years.
France uses a two round system to elect its president so the top two finishers in the first round of voting then face off in a run off election two weeks later.
The next election is scheduled to be held on April 23, 2017 with the second round scheduled for May 7.
Many experts believe that incumbent Socialist President Francois Hollande could be in real trouble if he does decide to run for reelection.
“The Socialist party, which Hollande is member of doesn’t have much love for him like the rest of the France because he’s failed on number of things, mostly the economy as France is still struggling,” William R. Keylor, a Professor at Boston University who specializes in International Relations and is expert on US and French politics said to RISE NEWS.
According to Keylor, Hollande’s mismanagement of the economy has seen his approval rating drop to as low as 10%.
The professor added that because of Hollande’s unpopularity, many of the political parties in France see an opportunity to challenge his Presidency.
One of those parties is led by a rising star in French politics by the Name of Emmanuel Macron, the 38-year-old who Hollande had as his finance minister has become the rising star of French intellectuals who wish for a more moderate future.
His brand of politics, and his campaign (which is called “En Marche!”, or On Our Way) are marked with a form of optimism not unlike Canadian Prime minister Justin Trudeau.
But Macron is not the only challenger in the election.
The Republicans (the center-right political party) will hold a primary in the fall that is being hotly contested by Former President Nicolas Sarkozy and former Prime Minister Alain Juppé.
There is also a far right party that is actually leading current opinion polls in the election- the National Front, led by Marine Le Pen, a member of the European Parliament.
Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie Le Pen is a rabid racist who founded the National Front as a reactionary force meant to inform more traditional ideas of how French society should be run.
Keylor suggest that on the international scene, Sarkozy, Hollande, and Macron would continue the international presences that France has with NATO and the European Union, but under Le Pen, France’s international presences would change drastically.
“Under both the Socialist and Republicans, France would continue their obligations to the Nato and the EU being charter members and one the more influential nations but under Le Pen, you would see France renege on the obligation” Keylor said.“Le Pen’s policy, much like Trump’s in America is all about making France first. Under her, you would see France retreat inwards”
With the Socialists discredited under Hollande’s poor economic management and weakness in dealing with terrorist threats, there is a real chance that France will have to choose from the right and the far right in the Presidential run-off election.
Why does that matter?
Well just look at the recent “burkini” controversy.
The nation has been gripped in debate over whether women should be allowed to wear a form of the Islamic covering known as a “burqa” on the beach. The issue came to a head when one beach community banned the outfit and forced women to remove it while on the beach.
The controversy has angered human rights campaigners and progressives the world over, but it is not clear-cut in France.
Le Pen and Sarkozy support making the ban a national one while Juppé and Macron want to relax the ban.
Macron, who speaks English and is married to his former high school teacher who is over 20 years his senior also wants to reform the French economy and is willing to go after some of its sacred cows, like the 35 hour workweek.
He is not a Socialist and has angered many labor unions due to his more reform minded view of the world, but he may be France’s only hope to prevent the country from plunging into a far right reality.
A 38 year old may be the man France needs in this time of great need.
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By John Massey
Francis Fukuyama infamously penned his 1989 essay “The End of History?”, and expanded it into a full book in 1992 “The End of History and the Last Man”.
Very broadly speaking, Fukuyama argued a Hegelian interpretation of history, in which the ending political order would be some variation of liberal democracy.
Western liberalism had just triumphed over the Soviet defense system in Eastern Europe, without firing a shot (though with the blessing of Mikhail Gorbachev).
On Christmas Day of 1991, the last bastion of Soviet political ideology receded into the “dustbin of history”.
The political and ideological victory was complete, and even a demonstration of military victory was completed on February 28th of 1991, with the tidy defeat of the Soviet style Iraqi Military.
While I don’t intend to add my voice to the two decades of dog piling on Mr. Fukuyama, as I at the very least respect the man and lack the requisite qualification to competently critique his early work, the last triumph is an example of both unjustified and dangerous Western triumphalism.
The relative ease of the Gulf War, and the false equivocation between Soviet Forces and Iraqi forces, has made western policy makers arrogant, and can lead to chasing “easy wars” that are anything but easy.
Operation Desert Storm was a flawless execution of the doctrine of AirLand Battle (ALB).
Put over simply, ALB relies on utilization of air forces on a tactical level, special forces in the deep battle space, and a counter blitz composed of armored and mechanized units, in order to both forestall reserve units, and deplete the momentum of the breeching force.
This would negate the overwhelming superiority of Warsaw Pact forces, and resulted in the Pentagon estimating for the first time that NATO might be able to win a land war in Europe against the Warsaw Pact.
The defeat of the Iraqi Military then, was heralded by many as a proof of concept, and that Warsaw Pact forces had been overestimated.
After all, Iraqi battalions equipped with BMPs, T-55s, and T-72s melted in the face of Abrams, Challengers, AMX-30s, TOWs, Hellfires, Mavericks, Paveways, and the rest of the menagerie designed to defend Europe against a Soviet fueled onslaught.
This was all accomplished with great speed, and few casualties.
Western military superiority should not be taken for granted however.
First, it should be noted that Coalition Forces were: more numerous, better trained, and had a much better developed doctrine in the way of ALB.
These are all qualities that would not have been shared by Warsaw Pact forces. What the Iraqis did share with the Warsaw Pact was equipment, to an extent.
Saddam intentionally kept the Iraqi Air Force weak, for fear of an Air Force sponsored coup. As a result, pilots of Iraqi’s most valuable air superiority fighters, their MiG-29s, proved ineffective against Coalition aircraft.
This is epitomized in one instance in “an early engagement in which a MiG-29 pilot shot down his wingman and then flew his own aircraft into the ground some 30 seconds later”.
Furthermore, despite having the 6th largest air force in the world at the time, less than half of Iraq’s aircraft were third or fourth generation aircraft, leaving the Iraqi Air Force both incompetent and technologically outpaced in comparison to Coalition forces.
The situation on the ground was much the same for the Iraqi Army. Top of the line Soviet armor, then and to this day, out range their NATO peers due to the utilization of Anti Tank Missiles fired from the gun barrel, like the 9M119 Svir.
The Soviet Union was also one of the first pioneers of Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA), and used it extensively.
An often copy and pasted, but thus far elusive, article purportedly in “Jane’s International Defense Review” by Richard M. Ogorkiewicz and entitled “Impenetrable Russian Tank Armour Stands Up to Examinination”, claims that tests conducted on Soviet T-72s outfitted with Kontakt 5 ERA were able to defeat anti-tank munitions available to NATO in the 1980s when Kontakt 5 would be top of the line ERA.
I cannot find the original article, if it exists, and the results may be dubious even if it does. In any case, top of the line Soviet armor would have been highly impressive in combat against NATO units in both firepower and protection.
The Iraqi Army however, did not have top of the line Soviet armor. Much like the Iraqi Air Force, the Iraqi Army’s armor was a mishmash of old and new, and with terrible training. An infamous report of an engagement between a single American M1A1 and three Iraqi “Asad Babil” T-72s recounts the Iraqi tanks ambushing the Abrams.
The first two fired high explosive rounds, ill suited for fighting armor, and the final engaging with a sabot round.
All three were destroyed, including the last tank being killed through a sand dune. Iraqi’s tank force, in addition to being unaware of what types of rounds to use against modern main battle tanks, was partially composed of somewhere in the range of 3,000 T-54s and its derivatives, as well as 1,500 T-62s.
The Iraqis also had around 1,000 T-72Ms imported from Poland. T-72Ms were a variant of the Soviet main battle tank designed for export, and to be inferior to their Soviet counterparts.
Dubbed by Viktor Suvorov as “monkey models” in his 1982 book “Inside the Soviet Army”, the Soviet Union exported these simpler tanks to its allies, and would be mass produced for usage by the Soviet Union itself should a large scale war break out and last for more than a few weeks.
As a result of these simplifications, monkey models: do not have stabilized guns, cannot fire anti-tank missiles, lack composite armor, lack NBC protection systems, have inferior radio and optical equipment, and exclusively manual turret traversal, among other simplifications.
There is also some merit to the claim that domestically produced “Saddam” and “Asad Babil” T-72s were further downgrades of the T-72M, though this claim is contested.
As a result of all of these factors, we can conclude that the Iraqi Military was ill equipped and ill trained to engage Coalition forces who consistently outgunned and outclassed them.
But this is not representative of the quality of competent usage of technologically relevant Soviet equipment.
Why then does the myth of Western invincibility exist?
In particular the American M1A2 Abrams is susceptible to this myth. The hulking tank, weighing 70 tons, can only be airlifted one at a time by a handful of aircraft in the US arsenal, which makes rapid reaction near impossible.
This is all worth it though, because its impervious to incompetent Iraqi tank crews and insurgents with RPG-7s, thanks to depleted uranium armor, right?
The only variant of the M1 Abrams used by the Saudi Army is the M1A2, seen here cooked off by a Houthi ATGM:
The ATGM in question is likely a variant of the 9M133 Konkurs, based on the infrared bulb on the back of the warhead. Granted, it appears that this Saudi Abrams was not utilizing any kind of appliqué armor, but an $8 million vehicle was destroyed by a Soviet era ATGM all the same.
Perhaps then, Western policy makers should not give in to the attractive vision of an easy war? Perhaps planners should not presume full spectrum dominance when charting out plans for the defense of the Baltic states, Taiwan, or Seoul?
Perhaps being humble in our capabilities, and meticulously planning alongside friends, the hopefully infrequent and necessary wars we fight is a better use of our blood and treasure than chasing “easy wars”?
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place.
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By Staff Report
Ben Carson, the former famed neurosurgeon apparently can’t see into the heads of his strongest supporters.
Moments after confirming his endorsement of Donald Trump, Carson supporters rushed to social media where many bashed him for the perceived betrayal.
“I’m absolutely heartbroken that you have chosen this path! It destroys everything I believed about you,” Vicky Snider wrote on Carson’s Facebook page.
“I could not be more disappointed in you Dr. Carson. You are not the person I thought you were,” Lori Nea Trybus wrote on Facebook. “I feel misled and betrayed by you. I thought you had an unwavering moral compass, but your support of Donald Trump proves that you do not.”
“No no no no no!!!!!! Please Dr. Carson no!!! He has made a mockery of all you fought so hard for!!!! I am beyond shocked and disappointed that you would stoop to endorse that wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing……
I am SO disheartened by this!! You didn’t have to endorse anybody, let alone hiM!!,” Debi Sweet wrote on Facebook.“Can’t believe you chose to support the one candidate who mocks God and is definitely not a Christian,” Kevin White wrote on the social media site. “Very disappointed in you and have lost much respect.”
“Well I have just lost all respect I had for you Dr. Carson,” Brenda Koppenhaver wrote on Facebook. “My husband and I were going to vote for you and you had to end your campaign, which we understand, but to we cannot back a schoolyard bully like Donald Trump.”“Honestly I feel used. I feel like you sold out,” David Humphrey wrote on Facebook. “You speak of Party as if it has relevance in the kingdom. I am hurt and feel like you have used the flag of Christ to sell out for political gain. I will never support Donald Trump.”Not all of Carson’s fans were against his decision though.“Thank you Ben for the support of Mr. Trump,” Steve Moore said. “I agree with everything you said. We won’t agree with everything everyone says, we all have differing opinions on various things, but with 2 men such as you and Mr. Trump, you have the wisdom to know what is going on in the real-world of Washington. Thank you for your support!”
Carson for his part said that the country is at a crossroads and in the middle of a moral crisis.
“We must be careful not to continue our current path, which is littered with uncertainty at best and ruination at worst,” Carson wrote in a Facebook post. “It is with that in mind that I endorse Donald Trump for President.”
Tell us what you think about Carson’s endorsement of Trump in the comments below!
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