Former President Barack Obama is still acting like the current President and many people around the world are totally cool with that.
Obama spoke earlier today to a crowd of over 70,000 people in Berlin where he shared a stage with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
He also filmed a video message to the people of Manchester with Merkel and it was everything the world needed to hear.
— Justin Welby ن (@JustinWelby) May 25, 2017
Meanwhile, his successor was having awkward handshakes with the French President.
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About the AuthorRich Robinson is the CEO and publisher of Rise News. He is also a journalist and a native of Miami. Robinson graduated from the University of Alabama and can be followed on Twitter @RichRobMiami.
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Filipino based Islamic extremists beheaded a Malaysian man they had held hostage for six months after a large ransom demand was not paid to return the man to his home.
The man, identified as Bernard Then Ted Fen according to an AP report was kidnapped back in May with another man at a seafood restaurant in the city of Sandakan in the Malaysian state of Sabah.
Militants from Abu Sayyaf, a ISIS sworn (and formerly al-Qaeda) linked Islamic extremism organization based in the Philippines carried out the kidnapping and execution in a move that is not usual for the group.
Then’s beheading is reportedly the first the group has ever carried out against a Malaysian.
From the AP:
“The United States and the Philippines have listed the Abu Sayyaf as a terrorist organization for kidnappings, beheadings, extortion and bomb attacks. The al-Qaida-linked militants have been weakened but have survived more than a decade of U.S.-backed offensives.
The Abu Sayyaf has been suspected of kidnappings two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipina from a marina in the south in September. Militants who identified themselves in an online video as belonging to the Abu Sayyaf have demanded more than $60 million for the release of the three foreigners.”
Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, commander of the Joint Task Group Sulu, told GMA News Online (a Filipino news organization) that Then was buried soon after he was executed.
“Accordingly, the body was immediately buried in the vicinity where they beheaded the victim,” Arrojado told GMA News Online.
There are also indications that the beheading might have been precipitated by a military assault against the group.
“It appears that the beheading pushed through almost simultaneously with the bombardment and rocket fires,” Arrojado told GMA News Online
Arrojado also said that Filipino troops are actively searching for the terrorists who adopted the flag of ISIS in late 2014.
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By John Massey
You’d be hard pressed to find many more people on planet Earth less deserving of a “peace” prize that Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe. And yet Mugabe was just named as the winner of the 2015 Confucius Peace Prize.
For those unaware, the People’s Republic of China launched the answer to the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, in response to the Nobel presentation of a Chinese dissident.
Despite the prize being awarded by a private institution, the validity of its intentions has come under question. It is been suggested as targeting those that benefit China’s geopolitical position rather than peacemakers, for example both Fidel Castro and Vladimir Putin.
The same is true in this case, though when questioned about Mugabe’s poor track record regarding political dissent and economic guidance, the chairman of the committee that awarded Mr. Mugabe with the Prize, Qiao Damo, told The Guardian that “Every country’s economy has its highs and lows. Though its economy is lagging behind, [Zimbabwe is] a very stable country [and] stability is precious in the African continent.”
While the Western reaction is well-known, one would likely also have interest in what Zimbabwean opinion is on the matter.
The largest news outlet in the country, The Herald, is a state-owned enterprise according to the Zimbabwean Stock Exchange, and is commonly regarded as the government’s mouthpiece. But it has been remarkably silent on the matter.
While The Herald lacked any specific coverage of the honor bestowed on Mugabe, it did offer a piece somewhat touching on the subject which suggested that Mugabe is trying to downplay the importance of the award.
This may have something to do with his desire to not stir negative public opinion as another Zimbabwean outlet featured a scathing piece lambasting the award.
While this is purely conjecture, it seems that there is a swath of Zimbabwean society that isn’t fooled by international gamesmanship. And the state has seemed to take notice.
Cover Photo Credit: Al Jazeera English/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)Post Views: 372
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By John Massey
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has made several claims regarding the utility of NATO in relation to its costs.
This is a strange claim indeed.
While Trump has said he would through the sheer will of his personality achieve Defense Department reform, which was tried and failed by the last two presidents, simultaneously increasing the size of the military across the board seems to indicate the result would be an increased military budget.
Regardless of the hypothetical effects on defense spending of a Trump administration, and the missing logic as to why the United States would need a larger military when it would be disengaging from the world, accurately assessing how much the American contribution to European defense actually costs would be a worth while endeavor.
Donald Trump has not taken the time to do this.
First, lets look at the easiest metric to measure American contributions to NATO, the direct funding of the alliance.
According to the funding page of NATO’s website, direct funding for the alliance is decided “in accordance with an agreed cost-sharing formula based on Gross National Income” of which the United States has agreed to foot 22.1446% of the bill.
So what is the grand total of NATO’s budget? The budget is divided into three sectors: civil, military, and the NATO Security Investment Programme (NSIP).
The civil budget broadly covers both PR and diplomacy. The military budget provides funding for staff colleges, communally owned assets like deployable radar, and administrative functions.
The NSIP provides for constructing various military assets which could not be reasonably funded by national defense budgets, including harbors and runways.
The budgets set forth in June of 2015 indicate that the civil budget is about €222 million ($251 million), the military budget at €1.16 billion ($1.31 billion), and the NSIP at €690 million ($780 million).
Adding these all together we get a total budget of about €2.03 billion ($230 billion). Already this is a very small number in terms of US spending, but the US only foots a little over one fifth of this, which comes out at around $500 million.
In contrast, Mr Trump has claimed that his border wall would cost in the range of $8 billion, not including maintenance.
This claim is also largely understood to be underselling the true cost for a fixed fortification, of which his apparent idol General Patton is noted as remarking on such structures as a “monument to the stupidity of man”.
Regardless, it seems that between the build up within United States, and the $8+ billion ineffectual wall, the United States’ $500 million to NATO seems downright microscopic.
Perhaps then Mr. Trump is referring to the nearly $600 billion US defense budget, which outspends the next few countries combined, including a number of allies.
So this must be what Mr. Trump is referring to, right? The US spends close to as much as the rest of the alliance, therefore the United States is being ripped off.
This is certainly a reasonable viewpoint, if you consider the 25th Infantry Division based in Hawaii, United States Forces Korea (USFK), or the US 7th Fleet based in Yokosuka, Japan as contributing to European defense.
While these assets might be used in a large conflict in Europe, if it were to last long enough, they are of little deterrent value in the Pacific.
A Reasonable appraisal of the American footprint in Europe will look at assets in or around Europe.
Using the Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) cost as a rough average, we can begin the calculate the costs of the US Army in Europe. At 16 brigades, and our rough approximation of $285 million for full readiness over a year, leaves us $4.56 Billion. Note we are making the annual cost of the European Dental Command as expensive as a combat unit.
The one battalion of US marines in Europe can also be easily factored in, at $55 million.
The US Air Force combines its commands in Europe and Africa. As a result we will count Air Force assets in Djibouti in addition to Europe.
This gives us 26 squadrons, which for simplicity’s sake we will count universally as F-16s, despite Pavehawks being less expensive to fly, and F-15s slightly more expensive to fly. Our DoD numbers give us $135 million per year, resulting in annually $3.51 billion per year.
This number may be fudged based on the limited information available on maintenance costs for various aircraft, but will do well as a stand in for our purposes of a rough estimate.
The cost of US Navy forces is even less readily available The Center for New American Security claims that a Carrier group costs $6.5 million per day to operate, which comes out at about $2.37 billion per year.
The US Navy had twelve surface ships in the Mediterranean in October of 2015, which for our purposes we will equate to two Carrier groups, which include two attack subs, four to six surface ships, plus an aircraft carrier with a compliment of aircraft.
The cost for our substitution is $4.74 billion.
The total cost of American assets in europe is about $13.36 billion per year.
That includes all the indirect costs of European defense, and direct NATO funding. This is of course not the exact value.
This is a rough estimate through open source channels that is willing to substitute jets for helicopters, and two carrier groups for a dozen surface ships.
That’s a small chunk of the overall defense budget, that is of significant strategic value. For reference, that’s in the ballpark of Italy’s contribution to European defense, and less than half of much maligned Germany’s contribution.
The Americans are not being taken for a ride by NATO.
This begs the question; why is the presumptive Republican nominee not able to have someone crunch publicly available numbers to assess the bargain price that the United States buys a Europe whole free and at peace for?
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