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[l] at 11/17/19 2:00am

Kyle Mizokami

Security,

Firing 650 bullets a minute, this product of the 1967 War lives up to the hype.

Key Point: Used for three decades, the Galil rifle proved to be exactly what the IDF needed.

The 1967 Six Day War provided many military lessons for the young state of Israel. One of many lessons was that the Israeli Army’s FN FAL battle rifles were too heavy and unwieldy. Israel needed a new assault rifle, and as a result, developed the Galil. Largely based on the Soviet AK-47, the Galil served as the service rifle of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) for nearly three decades.

In the wake of the 1967 war, Israel decided it needed a new assault rifle. The standard issue rifle of the Israeli Army, the Belgian FN FAL, was a large, heavy battle rifle chambered in 7.62. The FAL was equipped with a fixed stock and twenty-round magazines, making it a large, powerful weapon not well suited for urban combat. Both the United States and the Soviet Union had evolved past the battle rifle concept to field smaller, lighter rifles firing intermediate-powered cartridges, and Israel had captured thousands of AK-47s from Arab forces during the war. Lacking a major arms industry but wanting its own homemade assault rifle, Israel took a compromise route: it copied the AK-47.

Development of the Galil started after the Six Day War. The Galil uses the same piston-based method of operation as the AK-47, a rotating-bolt operating system that diverts propellant gasses to drive a combined piston/bolt carrier that cycles the weapon. The Galil looks like the AK-47, but individual parts are not compatible. The Galil is more directly related to Finland’s Valmet M62 assault rifle, Helsinki’s take on the AK, and early versions of the Galil even used Finnish receivers.

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[Author: Kyle Mizokami] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 11/17/19 1:45am

Chris Edwards

Politics, Americas

Here are the plans.

Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have each proposed an annual wealth tax on the richest Americans. There are so many flaws with such a tax that it probably would not pass Congress. If it did pass, it would likely be repealed soon after as the damage became obvious even to the politicians.

The number of European countries with annual wealth taxes has fallen from 12 in 1990 to just 3 today. The Europeans found that wealth taxes induced avoidance, evasion, and capital flight, as I discuss here. The taxes were also full of exemptions and raised relatively little revenue.

Let’s look at that last issue. Warren and her advisors claim that her wealth tax with rates of 2 and 3 percent would raise 1 percent of GDP in revenues a year, or $2.75 trillion over 10 years. She recently bumped up the top rate to 6 percent to supposedly raise another $1 trillion over 10 years, or 1.4 percent of GDP a year.

I suspect that a U.S. wealth tax would only raise about 0.2 percent of GDP, or about one-seventh of what Warren claims.

Warren says that her plan would tax “every dollar of net worth” above a $50 million exemption, and the estimate from her advisors assumes the tax base would be “comprehensive” with no exemptions. But any wealth tax that got through the congressional sausage machine would be riddled with exemptions.

Farmers would march on D.C. with pitchforks at the threat of a wealth tax on farmland. Mayors and governors would pitch a fit at the threat of a wealth tax on state-local bonds. The arts community would receive exemptions for art collections, which was the case under the Dutch, French, Germany, and Swedish wealth taxes.

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[Author: Chris Edwards] [Category: Politics]

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[l] at 11/17/19 1:30am

Jared Keller

Security,

Here's why.

Key point: Although they will be getting upgraded.

U.S. Special Operations Command plans on continuing to equip operators with FN America’s Mk 46 spec-ops designed M249 Squad Automatic Weapon variant and the beefed-up Mk 48 “super SAW,” doubling down on the two lightweight machine guns adopted nearly 15 years ago amid a major overhaul of the military’s small arms arsenal.

The Department of Defense recently awarded FN America, a South Carolina-based arms manufacturer, a $13.45 million contract to provide both the 5.56mm Mk 46 and 7.62mm Mk 48 light machine guns to SOCOM, The Firearm Blog reports. The contract represents an increase over SOCOM’s $11.5 million deal in 2010 for the two weapons, which FN specially designed for Naval Special Warfare starting back in 2004.

The Mk 46 and Mk 48, though they eclipse their SAW cousin in range, firepower, and ergonomics, have their own unique set of problems. The Mk 48 in particular “had a tendency to lose accuracy due to how much the weapon would shake during sustained firing,” The War Zone observed in May. “There were also problems with overheating and the gas system filling quickly with carbon, the latter issue leading to jamming unless operators thoroughly cleaned the weapon regularly.”

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[Author: Jared Keller] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 11/17/19 1:00am

Robert Beckhusen

Security, Americas

The evidence is here.

Key point: If the West had not invaded Europe and provided equipment, it would have taken Stalin far longer to defeat Nazi Germany.

Around 80 percent of the more than five million German military deaths in World War II occurred on the Eastern Front. This terrible conflict with the Red Army consumed great quantities of men and material until the Soviets decisively ended the war by capturing Berlin in May 1945.

During that time, the Red Army underwent a radical transformation, having been decimated by Joseph Stalin’s purges before Hitler’s armies invaded on June 22, 1941, inflicting horrendous losses.

But as the war progressed, the two sides effectively traded places, with the Red Army honing a mechanized “deep battle” doctrine that more closely resembled earlier German tactics — just as the German army fell into disarray as war-time casualties took their toll.

All the while, the Western Allies provided enormous quantities of supplies and other aid under the Lend-Lease policy. The United States and the United Kingdom supplied more than 21 million tons of aid to the Soviet Union during the war, including thousands of tanks and warplanes.

But the question of how much this aid affected the outcome of the war would become important not only for historians, but as a matter of national pride, as the Soviet Union went on to diminish Lend-Lease’s role in helping turn the tide of battle. Western historians would, perhaps for similar reasons, overstate the role of the aid in Soviet success.

The reality was a bit more complicated — and perhaps inconclusive. Most likely, the Soviets would have won regardless, as the Eastern Front for the Germans was unwinnable after the Battle of Stalingrad, before most of the aid to the USSR arrived. But Lend-Lease also certainly helped shorten the war and saved lives.

Armor

The Allies supplied more than 12,000 tanks to the Soviet Union. More than 5,000 came from the United Kingdom and Canada and included Valentine, Churchill and Matilda tanks. The United States, for its part, supplied nearly 1,400 M3 Lee tanks and more than 4,000 M4 Shermans.

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[Author: Robert Beckhusen] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 11/17/19 12:30am

Christian Wade

Security,

From an expert who knows.

Key point: It operates like the M4.

After reading the article, “The Marine Corps’ Rifle is Super Expensive – And No One Knows Why,” I spent a few days pondering my response. I have spent almost ten years working to improve the USMC infantry rifle, and I think this article gets it largely wrong about the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps was so impressed by the performance of the M27 in testing and the Marines’ confidence in it that he ordered Marine Corps Systems Command to purchase the Approved Acquisition Objective and fully field the weapon. There was no secret conspiracy to somehow subvert the JCIDS process or the Federal Acquisitions Regulations (FARs) and cause the Heckler & Koch M27 IAR to become the USMC Service Rifle.

Here’s eight reasons that this is the rifle our Corps needs now, and at the right price:

1. The M27 operates (and appears to the enemy) just like the M4, allowing our current cradle-to-grave combat marksmanship training continuum to “plug-and-play” with all the weapons in the Fire Team.  Also, enemy snipers and other personnel may be less likely to identify the Automatic Rifleman — that’s a good thing.

2. The M27 has proven to be extremely durable when compared to the M16A4 and M4/M4A1.  For example, when using M855 ball, the M27 barrel and bolt may last over 35,000 rounds before requiring maintenance/replacement.  The M4 barrel and bolt (locking lugs) may last upwards of 10,000 rounds under extreme use before requiring replacement. Current (newest recipe) M855A1 cartridges reduce these endurance numbers, respectively.  The M27 has suffered some M855A1 teething issues. These issues were resolved in all the rifles.

3. The M27 has proven that it can sustain a round fired through a fully water-filled bore without damaging the weapon, and as important, the M27 can continue to fire without issue after this event.  The M16A4 and M4 have proven incapable of safely firing a round through a water-filled bore. A Reconnaissance Man might care about that and for that matter, the root of the word “Marines” has something to do with water.

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[Author: Christian Wade] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 11/17/19 12:00am

Kris Osborn

Security,

The Air Force is revving up production of the air-dropped, precision-guided BLU-129 bomb increasingly in demand by warzone commanders - so accurate, lethal and precise, it is called “the world’s largest sniper accuracy."

Key point: This weapon brings additional attack flexibility to the battlefield.

The Air Force is revving up production of the air-dropped, precision-guided BLU-129 bomb increasingly in demand by warzone commanders - so accurate, lethal and precise, it is called “the world’s largest sniper accuracy.”

The often-requested weapon, described as an adaptable carbon fiber bomb, is specially engineered to control “field effects” and create low collateral damage resulting from air attacks.

“The Air Force is currently producing BLU-129 bomb bodies to address operational demand,” Capt. Hope Cronin, Air Force Spokeswoman, told Warrior Maven.

The BLU-129 is increasingly in demand because, among other things, it is capable of quickly tailoring its explosive charge depending upon the threat, using what’s called “variable yield effects.” Variable-yield effects allow for attackers to adjust the explosive power while in-flight, in some cases enabling extremely effective, yet precise, more narrowly-configured attacks.

“There are limited numbers of this weapon, and we want to hold onto it for those missions which need to have only that capability,” Col. Gary Haase, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), told Warrior Maven in an interview last Fall at an Air Force Association Symposium.

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[Author: Kris Osborn] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 11/16/19 11:30pm

Matthew Moss

Security,

Problems with overheating and jamming in Afghanistan have raised questions.

Key point: The M-4 is being improved to incorporate lessons learned on the battlefield.

The U.S. Army’s standard infantry weapon repeatedly overheated and jammed during a bloody 2008 battle in Afghanistan. The Washington Times reported last week on the reported failure of the M-4 carbine during the fierce firefight in Wanat, during which the Taliban nearly overran an Army outpost.

A direct descendant of the Vietnam War-era M-16, the more compact M-4 is the Army’s standard-issue weapon. The ground combat branch has half a million of the semi-automatic weapons in service and has signed contracts for 120,000 more.

The Army and manufacturers are improving the M-4 to reflect battlefield lessons, but it’s unclear whether these upgrades will prevent another near-catastrophe like occurred at Wanat.

In the early morning hours of July 13, 2008, a Taliban force of between 100 and 200 fighters attacked an American Forward Operating Base guarded by 48 soldiers of 2nd Platoon, Chosen Company—part of 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment.

The paratroopers had just arrived in the area five days prior. The Taliban had been watching—and attacked before the platoon could finish setting up its defenses, which typically include walls, razor wire and machine guns.

Firing machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars, the Taliban swarmed the American position. The U.S. soldiers called in Apache attack helicopters, 155-militmeter howitzers and even a B-1 heavy bomber to pound the attackers.

The Americans held their ground. But nine soldiers died and 27 suffered wounds. Around 50 Taliban died and evidence suggests 40 were wounded.

What went wrong?

In stand-up fights like Wanat, whichever side is able to generate fire superiority—in other words, throw out more lead—has the advantage. This is particularly important for the defenders, as sheer firepower can slow the attackers’ advance until help arrives.

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[Author: Matthew Moss] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 11/16/19 11:00pm

Robert Farley

Security,

History has an answer.

Key point: Many countries have tried and many have failed.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is the most visible, and possibly the most consequential, manifestation of China’s emergence as a great power. In three decades, China has turned a large, but relatively minor regional force into a fleet of global consequence.

But now that China has its navy, can it keep it? The historical record is mixed. Over the past 130 years several nations have embarked on radical schemes of fleet-building designed to elevate their positions in the international hierarchy. A distressing number of these schemes have failed, with powerful, expensive capital ships left rotting at dock or rusting at the bottom of the sea. Only one “new” naval power managed to maintain its position, and the United States Navy (USN) today represents the PLAN’s greatest obstacle.

Why did so many countries embark on the construction of great fleets, how did they do so, and why did they fail? This article briefly surveys the rise and collapse of the navies of Germany, Japan, and Russia, alongside the success story of the United States. Some of these navies persisted across several generations of capital ship, but only the USN managed to achieve and maintain its world position over the entire course of the last 120 years.

Measurement

Since at least the late nineteenth century, the largest navies have organized themselves around “capital ships,” individual vessels of great fighting power surrounded by a variety of support ships. The historical analysis of Alfred Thayer Mahan greatly influenced this development, but it nevertheless represented a break with practice of the eighteenth and nineteenth century, when ships-of-the-line largely acted without a support network. At the Battle of Trafalgar, for example, the contending fleets included sixty ships of the line and only fourteen smaller vessels. By contrast, at the Battle of Jutland the Germans and British employed fifty-eight capital ships and 192 support vessels. And at the Battle of Philippine Sea, Japanese and American fleets included twenty-four battleships and fleet carriers, supported by 213 smaller ships.

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[Author: Robert Farley] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 11/16/19 10:30pm

Charlie Gao

Technology,

And sometimes that's enough.

Key point: Every gun does not need to be an expert killer.

The PMR-30 is one of Kel-Tec’s newer guns. A 30-round single action only pistol chambered in .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire, the pistol is meant to shoot fast and flat. It’s an eye-catching design, with Kel-Tec’s signature molded plastic externals, high-visibility sights, and a fairly steep grip. But it begs the question…what exactly is the point of the PMR-30?

Kel-Tec’s site lists “firepower” as a key selling point of the PMR-30, calling it perfect for “backpacking, camping, and range day plinking” While the PMR-30 could definitely be used to take small game during backpacking and camping, generally one wants to carry more heavy firepower than a .22 WMR when a gun is necessary for backpacking or camping to fend off larger predators. Shotguns, rifles, or magnum revolvers are generally the order of the day when it comes to defending against wildlife that could harm a person.

The PMR-30 can definitely be seen as a fun choice for plinking if one feels the need to step up from .22 LR. The .22 WMR is significantly more powerful, yet the PMR-30 by all accounts keeps the recoil low and the slide tracking fast for quick and easy shots on target. But the downside here is cost. The .22 WMR costs around the same as regular 9x19mm rounds. While 9x19mm rounds recoil more, training and plinking with them is far more practical as those skills can be easily transferred to defensive pistol usage. Well tuned 9mms also can run nearly as flat as the PMR-30, though they usually are more expensive.

However, after that Kel-Tec states that “the PMR30 can also play a role in home defense for the recoil shy among us.” This is a fairly disingenuous statement. While it’s true that a PMR-30 is better than nothing, there is a reason why practically no military or police department issues a pistol in .22 WMR. The closest analog to it in military or police service is the FN Five-seveN, but this pistol is specifically optimized to penetrate armor with the 5.7mm armor-piercing round. Even then, reports of the 5.7’s effectiveness against softer targets are mixed at best. The .22WMR wouldn’t fare much better.

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[Author: Charlie Gao] [Category: Technology]

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[l] at 11/16/19 10:00pm

Warfare History Network

Security, Asia

A World War II showdown.

Key point: The Battle of the Philippine Sea was the last great contest between carrier strike forces ever fought.

The Philippine Sea encompasses two million square miles of the western part of the Pacific Ocean. It is bounded by the Philippine Islands on the west, the Mariana Islands on the east, the Caroline Islands to the south, and the Japanese Islands to the north. In the summer of 1944 it was the battleground of two great carrier strike forces. One of these belonged to Japanese Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa. The other belonged to U.S. Admiral Raymond Spruance, and its carriers were under the tactical command of Marc Mitscher. Ozawa had explicit orders to halt the steady advance of the U.S. 5th Fleet, to which Mitscher’s carriers belonged, across the vast Pacific Ocean toward Japan.

Ozawa had the majority of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s fighting fleet under his command at the time, but his force of approximately 90 ships and submarines was still considerably smaller than the U.S. Navy’s 129 ships and submarines. He also commanded 450 carrier-based aircraft that would coordinate with 300 ground-based aircraft in the Marianas.

Ozawa’s strike force steamed east in two groups. The vanguard, comprising three small carriers, four battleships, and other vessels, plowed through the Philippine Sea 100 miles ahead of the main group, which was composed of six large carriers, a battleship, and a wide array of supporting vessels.

Ozawa’s strategy was simple. His vanguard would serve as a decoy to lure the U.S. carrier aircraft while the aircraft from the main group, reinforced with land-based aircraft in the Marianas, inflicted heavy damage in multiple attacks.

Ozawa had no intention of letting Mitscher land the first blow. Japanese carrier aircraft had greater range than U.S. carrier aircraft, and Ozawa planned to make the most of his advantage. In addition, Ozawa would be able to launch his aircraft into the wind. The U.S. carriers would have to turn around and sail away from the Japanese fleet to launch their aircraft into the wind.

The Trap Flops for Ozawa

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[Author: Warfare History Network] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 11/16/19 9:30pm

Kyle Mizokami

Security, Asia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norinco_CQ#/media/File:DA_556.jpg Meet China's Norinco CQ Rifle.

Key Point: The gun is mysterious; why'd the Chinese manufacture it, why was it not given to their security services, and why has it been able to make its away across the world? 

Some weapons are so ubiquitous they are manufactured even in countries one might not associate them with. One example of this is the M16 rifle series. In service with the U.S. Military for more than fifty years, it has fallen into the hands of many groups that were not originally issued them, such as the Viet Cong, communist guerillas in the Philippines, and now the Islamic State. Only one of America’s potential adversaries took the step of making their own M16s, however: that distinction belongs to China with the production of the CQ rifle.

The Cold War saw large numbers of M16 style rifles issued to America’s allies worldwide, from the South Vietnamese Army to the Israeli Defense Forces. Lightweight and reasonably effective once a series of embarrassing—and deadly—kinks were ironed out, the M16A1 rifle was also a visual symbol of a country’s alliance with the United States, just as the AK-47/M assault rifle was a symbol of support by the Soviet Union.

The M16 series rifle, adopted by the Pentagon 1965, was a gas operated, direct impingement weapon designed to fire the new 5.56-millimeter round. Weighing just seven pounds with a twenty round magazine, it was a handy weapon for ground forces facing both conventional, World War II-style warfare and counterinsurgency alike. The lighter rounds were easier to transport in bulk by helicopter, and the 5.56 seemingly had magical lethality against human-sized targets.

After the Vietnam War, the People’s Republic of China began manufacturing a number of American small arms that played a prominent role in the war. The M14 battle rifle, M16 assault rifle and M1911 .45 caliber handgun all went into production, likely the result of copies of the weapons handed over by the victorious People’s Army of Vietnam in 1975 to their Chinese allies. The surrender of South Vietnam flooded former North Vietnam with weapons which it distributed far and wide, sending captured military equipment as far away as the Soviet Union, East Germany and likely North Korea.

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[Author: Kyle Mizokami] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 11/16/19 9:00pm

Kyle Mizokami

Security,

But how many should be built?

Key point: The B-21 will be the spearhead of America's next-generation aerial penetration capabilities

On October 27, 2015, nearly thirty-four years to the day after Northrop Grumman was awarded the contract to develop the first stealth bomber, the U.S. Air Force awarded Northrop a contract for a new bomber: the B-21 Raider. While many of the details of the Raider are shrouded in mystery, we do know a few things about it, and can infer others.

The B-21 Raider bomber takes its name from both the twenty-first century and the legendary 1942 raid by Gen. James “Jimmy” Doolittle’s force of B-25 Mitchell bombers against targets in and around Tokyo, Japan. In invoking the Doolittle Raid, the Air Force is drawing attention to attack’s audacious nature, the strategic and tactical surprise, and the epic distances General Doolittle and his “raiders” flew to accomplish their mission.

A tailless, batlike aircraft, the official rendering of the B-21 Raider released by the Air Force bears a superficial resemblance to the B-2 Spirit bomber. There are important distinctions, however. The B-21 moves its engines closer to the wing root, where they occupy the juncture between wing and fuselage, whereas the B-2’s twin pairs of General Electric F118-GE-100 engines are distinctly apart from the fuselage on the wing. The Raider’s engine air intakes are angled and not serrated like those on the B-2 Spirit. The Raider also has overwing exhausts to mask the infrared signature of the four engines, unlike the B-2. (Interestingly, this is exactly how the B-2’s exhausts were depicted in an April 1988 artist’s conception of that bomber.)

The aircraft appears similar in size to the B-2 Spirit, almost certainly making it a four-engine bomber. The announcement of Pratt and Whitney in 2016 as a B-21 subcontractor narrows down the new bomber’s engines to two designs: the F-100 and the F-135. The mature F-100, which powers the F-15 Eagle series of fighters, seems a sound choice, but the Air Force may want the F-135, which powers the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, for its growth potential and ability to lower engine costs for the F-35 fleet.

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[Author: Kyle Mizokami] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 11/16/19 8:30pm

Roger Bate

Society,

Unlike teens, adults have not changed buying behavior in the recent past.

Following my blog from last week about teen vaping buyer habits, I now discuss adult vaping habits from the same ongoing survey. Unlike teen buyers, adults have not changed buying behavior in the recent past. They are still accessing products from legal sources, since they haven’t been driven to illicit sourcing.

All adults (16 surveyed so far from the Philadelphia area) said they were vaping to wean themselves off of smoking. One said he had vaped cannabis but no longer did so because of concerns about lung disease, while no others admitted to THC vaping. Other vapers were also worried about lung disease but most were still actively vaping, only two said they had virtually quit vaping. Four liked menthol flavors and another four used fruity flavors, while others used tobacco flavors.

In addition, two had used heat-not-burn products (IQOS), one extensively while working overseas (IQOS has only just been approved in US), and one said they preferred it to vaping.

Essentially the vapers fell into two camps, those that used flavors that mimicked smoking (and some of these may well switch to IQOS at some stage) and those that wanted something totally unlike smoking to help them quit.

As the US administration contemplates its vaping policy, it should bear in mind that many adult vapers use fruity flavors, either to help quit or to at least not smoke. If such flavors are banned the question is whether those folks return to smoking or switch to tobacco-like vaping or heat-not-burn products.

While preventing teen uptake of vaping is important, it cannot be pursued by ignoring adult habits. After all, smoking causes cancer but as far as we know, vaping is far less dangerous. Vaping-related deaths are from THC not Juul-type products, as even the CDC is slowly beginning to acknowledge.

This article by Roger Bate first appeared at The American Enterprise Institute.

Image: Reuters.

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[Author: Roger Bate] [Category: Society]

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[l] at 11/16/19 8:00pm

Charlie Gao

Security,

It served with distinction from Vietnam onwards--with amazing range. 

Key point: The F-111 struck a weird medium between the tactical strike aircraft and the strategic bomber.

The F-111 Aardvark was the U.S. Air Force’s premier strike aircraft for the majority of the Cold War. It served in practically every conflict from Vietnam forwards, until it was replaced by the F-15E Strike Eagle. It also served Strategic Air Command in a limited role as a strategic bomber.

But what made the F-111 great? Did the United States truly lose any capability by retiring it?

The F-111 was one of the earliest joint-service aircraft, meant to fulfill both the U.S. Air Force’s requirement for a swing wing strike bomber and the U.S. Navy’s requirement for a long-range interceptor.

The strike bomber role meant that it needed to go very low and fast to penetrate enemy air defenses. As a result, it was fitted with an advanced terrain following radar, swing wings for increased maneuverability at low speeds, and a generous bomb bay. Later NATO strike aircraft like the Panavia Tornado would gain a lot of design cues from the F-111, including the radar and swing wings.

The F-111 first was tested in combat in Vietnam during 1968, but issues with the design delayed its full fielding until Operation Linebacker. It would go on to become one of the most survivable bombers of the war due to its ability to penetrate at a low level, with only a 0.015 loss rate.

However, the F-111 would be rejected from the Navy’s competition to find a long-range interceptor in favor of a design that would become the more maneuverable F-14 Tomcat.

The Air Force was pleased with its performance and continued to upgrade the F-111. The F-111D was one of the first combat aircraft with a “glass cockpit,” that featured primarily screens instead of gauges to display information. It also featured some of the most advanced avionics of the time.

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[Author: Charlie Gao] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 11/16/19 7:30pm

Kyle Mizokami

Security,

2018 was a big year for firearms. Here are the best. 

Key point: The best weapons from the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s SHOT Show.

Held annually in Las Vegas, the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s SHOT Show is known as the industry event where new firearms of all kinds are introduced to the public. From self-defense revolvers to precision rifles, SHOT is the place to see the latest innovations in the world of guns. Let’s take a look at five weapons introduced at SHOT 2018 that might be among the best this year.

Glock 19X

The U.S. Army may not have wanted the Glock’s entry into the service’s Modular Handgun System (it may be reconsidering that decision), but ordinary civilians undoubtedly will, and Austrian company is offering their MHS candidate, the Glock 19X, to the general public. The Glock 19X is a chimera of a handgun, with the frame of the full-sized Glock 17 but the Glock 19’s shorter four-inch barrel. As a result, the handgun is just 7.4 inches long. The pistol weighs just over a pound and a half unloaded, and just under two pounds loaded. This, as other observers have noted mimics the route that Colt took to release the Colt Commander, a derivative of the classic M1911A1 design offered to the U.S. military.

In keeping with the Army’s changeover from .45 ACP to nine-millimeter in the in 1980s, the G19X is chambered in nine-millimeter Parabellum. Trigger pull for this double-action pistol is a crisp 5.8 pounds. The G19X is colored coyote brown and comes with the retention lanyard for military service. A Picatinny rail is built in just forward of the trigger to accommodate light attachments or laser aiming devices. Glock’s latest pistol also comes with three magazines, one seventeen-round magazine and two nineteen-round magazines.

Iver Johnson M1911 Carbine

The 1911 handgun’s reputation for recoil is a bit overstated, but there may be some shooters who would appreciate a recoil-absorbing stock built into the century-old pistol. Unfortunately, adding a stock to a pistol technically turns it into a rifle, at least as far as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is concerned.

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[Author: Kyle Mizokami] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 11/16/19 7:00pm

Sebastien Roblin

Security, Asia

A new report raises serious concerns.

Key point: A small number of torpedo hits can sink a large warship.

In 2019, an annual report released by the Department of Testing & Evaluation revealed that a potentially revolutionary new torpedo-defense system installed on five American aircraft carriers had proven unsatisfactory and would be withdrawn from service.

The system combined a towed Torpedo Warning System sensor array designed to detect incoming torpedoes with a quick-acting launcher called the Anti-Torpedo Device System (ATTDS) that could spit out a miniature 220-pound Countermeasure Anti-Torpedo (CAT) measuring only 171 millimeters in diameter. The CAT torpedo was designed to home in on the incoming torpedo and blast it short of its target.

Starting in 2013, the Navy installed the system on five Nimitz-class super-carriers—the George H. W. Bush, Harry Truman, Nimitz, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Theodore Roosevelt. You can see a photo of one being fired from its six-cell launcher here.

But in September 2018 the Navy concluded testing and began removing the systems from the ships. Reportedly, they had failed to demonstrate enough improvement to be operationally viable. The Pentagon had by then invested $760 million in the torpedo-defense program of which ATTDS was a part, though other components of the program may still prove successful.

Details on the ATTD’s deficiencies are vague. While it demonstrated “some capability” at intercepting torpedoes, but its reliability was “uncertain,” and its lethality “untested.” The Navy also failed to test it versus simulated foreign torpedoes, relying on U.S.-built torpedoes instead.

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[Author: Sebastien Roblin] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 11/16/19 6:05pm

Mark Episkopos

Security, Europe

A Russian Su-27 recent intercepted an American F-15C.

Key point: Russia and NATO's military buildup in the Baltics is creating a tense situation. 

In the most recent illustration of ongoing Russia-NATO military tensions over Baltic airspace, recently released footage shows a Russian Su-27 fighter making a sharp turn into an American F-15C.

It is unclear when the video was filmed, with some speculating that it occured during a prior NATO BAP (Baltic Air Policing) mission. When viewed in that light, this incident seems to fall into the trend of what US officials have previously described as “ unsafe ” Russian interceptions and “aggressive maneuvers” in high-tension airspace.

Russian tactical aircraft in the Baltic region have previously been accused of flying with their transponders off, which would certainly compound an already-tense interception. The Russians have levied similar accusations against western aircraft operating in the region; most recently, against an unidentified Swedish Gulfstream surveillance craft intercepted by an Su-27.

But Russian media and military experts provide an entirely different context, arguing that it was the F-15 that engaged in “provocative” and “reckless” behavior by allegedly intruding on the flight path of a Russian government plane being escorted by the Su-27 in question.

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[Author: Mark Episkopos] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 11/16/19 6:00pm

Michael Peck

Security, Americas

Pinterest China already has them. Why does the U.S. need them? Simple: Take out the mines.

At dawn on June 6, 1944, the German troops defending the Normandy beaches glimpsed a terrifying sight.

Landing craft were disgorging M-4 Sherman tanks on the beaches. But these were no ordinary tanks: on their hulls were fitted rotating drums to which chains were attached. The chains flailed the beach, detonating any mines buried in the sand.

These were the legendary British “Crab” tanks of the 79th Armored Division, whose job it was to clear minefields. And now the U.S. Marine Corps is bringing back the Crabs, but with a twenty-first century twist.

The Crawling Remotely Operated Amphibious Breacher, or CRAB, will be a robot vehicle that will clear naval mines that threaten Marine amphibious assault troops. The Marines are developing CRAB as a  “submersible, remote-autonomous system with front-end equipment—including a mine flail, tiller and rake—capable of breaching or proofing amphibious assault lanes for landing forces,” according to a Marine Corps news release.

“The robotic crawlers will splash into the water from a littoral utility craft and travel along the seafloor to remove explosive and nonexplosive obstacles from the assault lane. Each CRAB is intended to be expendable.”

The surf zone, where waves break onto shore, is a challenge for amphibious landings because turbulent water makes mine detection difficult. The Marines currently rely on the Assault Breacher Vehicle—an M1A1 tank chassis with a mine plow, and Mine Clearing Line Charges, which are rocket-fired lines festooned with explosives. Neither system is designed to operate in the surf zone.

“The CRAB system is important because currently, the Naval Force can only breach in the surf zone with significant risk to mission or personnel,” said Capt. Anthony Molnar, a project officer for Marine Corps Systems Command. “This would alleviate that by having an inexpensive and expendable piece of equipment going through there.”

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[Author: Michael Peck] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 11/16/19 5:24pm

Randal O'Toole

economy,

Amtrak has a $33 billion maintenance backlog.

press release issued by Amtrak last week would, if it were published by publicly traded firm, be a violation of securities laws and regulations. The press release claimed that Amtrak's FY 2019 annual financial report, which has yet to be published, would show that passenger revenues covered 99 percent of operating costs. Amtrak officials further projected that the company would show a profit for the first time in its history in 2020.

Neither of these claims are true because they grossly misrepresent what the annual report will say in two ways. Most important, the annual report will identify depreciation as one of Amtrak's biggest costs, amounting to nearly 20 percent of its budget. Depreciation was $807 million in Amtrak's 2018 annual report, and is projected to be around $50 million more in 2019.

Last week's press release and other of Amtrak's public statements pretend that depreciation doesn't count. Yet depreciation is more than just a tax deduction: it is an actual measure of the wear-and-tear on infrastructure and equipment that must eventually be replaced.

The second problem is that Amtrak counts more than $225 million in tax subsidies from 18 states as "passenger revenues." The vast majority of taxpayers who pay these subsidies never ride Amtrak trains, so they can hardly be considered passenger revenues.

Between these two misrepresentations, Amtrak's losses in 2019 were more than a billion dollars greater than Amtrak claims. Unfortunately, there are no government agencies watchdogging Amtrak the way the Securities & Exchange Commission monitors publicly traded firms.

Of course, Amtrak isn't attempting to defraud private investors -- it doesn't have any. Instead, it is attempting to delude elected officials and other members of the public into supporting more subsidies for Amtrak. Amtrak will admit that it needs capital subsidies, it just doesn't want to admit that actual passenger revenues are insufficient to pay to maintain the infrastructure paid for with those subsidies.

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[Author: Randal O'Toole] [Category: economy]

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[l] at 11/16/19 5:17pm

James Jay Carafano

Security, Asia

Reuters If Beijing plays its cards correctly, then it can face the world with more confidence, less bullying, and gain the respect and trust of other nations around the world that are increasingly doubtful about the wisdom of doing business with China.

How can the Hong Kong protests end in a way that serves everyone’s best interests? 

How can China take a black-eye and turn it into a positive?

How can both sides build constructive, sustainable models for peace and prosperity?

The answer is: Everybody—Beijing, the Hong Kong government, and the protestors—must put something on the table.

What does that mean for Beijing? First, the regime needs to drop its bully act: no more threats of “crushed bodies and shattered bones” if Hong Kong tries to split off from China. No serious actor is suggesting a split. And this kind of gratuitously provocative rhetoric accomplishes nothing.

Instead, Beijing ought to trumpet its continuing commitment to the “one country, two systems” agreement—explicitly reaffirm what that means in terms of preserving Hong Kong’s freedoms.

Cheering the deal that it made decades ago has a big upside for the Chinese government. By publicly reaffirming the principle behind the Basic Law, Beijing would send the message that it honors its commitments. Certainly, it would be a timely message.

The world is becoming increasingly skeptical about Beijing’s intentions of holding up its end of the international bargains it has made and its desire to treat its partners fairly and with respect. Given its not-so-great reputation for bullying and exploiting others, the Chinese government could do with an act of contrition that says it is serious about treating others well.

The virtue of this proposal is that it is true: China has everything to gain from respecting one country, two systems. Hong Kong plays a unique and important role for China: it helps China grow without lying, cheating and extorting in the global free market.

By respecting Hong Kong’s political and economic freedoms, China retains an important portal of economic freedom to the rest of the world. Reminding the rest of the world how much China values that relationship would not just help deescalate the confrontation in Hong Kong it would burnish China’s tarnished reputation around the world.

What does Hong Kong’s government need to do? It needs to take a side.

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[Author: James Jay Carafano] [Category: Security]

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[l] at 11/16/19 5:15pm

Amitai Etzioni

Politics, Americas

Reuters Even if the proposals of many Democratic candidates were implemented, little would change in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Presidential candidates on the Left are calling for great, bold ideas and criticizing moderate Democrats for their pragmatism. Elizabeth Warren seeks “big, structural change.” Bernie Sanders calls for nothing less than a revolution. But little of this bravado and grand thinking was in evidence when a parade of Democratic presidential candidates addressed the 2019 convention of J Street, a left-leaning Jewish group, whose slogan is “The Political Home for Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace Americans.” The positions presented made good sense if one wanted to satisfy local American political sensibilities, walking a careful line between appealing to progressives Jews, many of whom are very critical of the Israeli government (and quite a few of whom are quite critical of Israel itself and support the BDS movement) and—the traditional Jewish groups, which include many who are staunch supporters of Israel.

The same positions, though, have at best marginal importance in the reality of the Middle East. Even if all of them were implemented, Israel would still occupy the West Bank, Gaza would still be the largest open-air prison in the world, and the two peoples would still be at each other's throats rather than living together securely and peacefully.

One issue the various candidates danced around was under what conditions to withhold the $3.8 billion in aid the US grants to Israel each year. Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg stated that “some” strings should be attached to the aid. Julian Castro stated that such a restriction “wouldn’t be my first move” but “I wouldn’t take it off the table,” a position that should earn him a prize for being on both sides of an issue. Michael Bennet hedged his position even more; he would only carefully weigh the impact of withholding the aid. Amy Klobuchar would not go that far, explaining: “It’s not a good idea to negotiate these things right now.” Meanwhile, Israelis mock the whole idea that the United States could twist their arm by withholding $3.8 billion, given that the sum amounts to a small fraction of the Israeli budget.

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[Author: Amitai Etzioni] [Category: Politics]

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