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Diplomacy & Crisis News

Will Facebook and Twitter make the Coronavirus Scare Even Scarier?

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 22:30

Jason Kindrachuk, Alyson Kelvin


We are currently seeing an outbreak of a third coronavirus that can cause severe pneumonia, shifting the global perspective on coronaviruses and their potential to cause a greater range of illness.

Over the past two decades, three novel coronaviruses — SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in 2002, MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) in 2012 and now 2019-nCoV — have emerged, with both health and economic consequences around the globe.

Before SARS, coronaviruses were known to be one of the causes of the common cold. Although they can cause severe illness in higher-risk groups such as newborns, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, they typically cause mild disease in healthy adults.

The emergence of SARS was the first indication that coronaviruses could cause more severe illness in otherwise healthy adults, with the virus infecting the lower reaches of the lungs. MERS has also caused epidemics of pneumonia and systemic disease since 2012.

We are currently seeing an outbreak of a third coronavirus that can cause severe pneumonia, shifting the global perspective on coronaviruses and their potential to cause a greater range of illness. As the public looks for information and scientists rush for answers, advances in social media and technology have offered some good, some bad and some ugly pockets of information.

Rapid progress

The world is not the same as it was in 2002 when SARS emerged. Social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, have allowed the rapid exchange of information — and sometimes misinformation. Many of the cutting-edge technologies and techniques scientists use today to analyze big data did not exist in 2002 either.

The World Health Organization was alerted of a pneumonia cluster on Dec. 31, which appeared to be linked to a single market in Wuhan, the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. Chinese scientists rapidly isolated the virus and sequenced its genome using a cutting-edge technology called next generation sequencing.

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Was America Right to Use Nuclear Weapons on Imperial Japan?

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 22:00

James Holmes

History, Asia

We take another look.

Key point: It is easy to judge when you're not the decision-maker or if you have complete information. No matter what you think, it is true that hindsight is 20/20.

Retrospectives on the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki conjure up Theodore Roosevelt for me. That goes double when the anniversary is a multiple of ten—as it is today, the seventieth anniversary of Enola Gay’s strike on Hiroshima. Commentators work themselves into high moral dudgeon when that terminal zero recurs. But preening constitutes a poor substitute for dispassionate learning from contemporary or past decisionmakers. In 1910 former president Roosevelt told an audience at the Sorbonne:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood....”

One imagines TR would have even tarter words for critics writing decades after the fact. It’s easy to pass judgment with the advantage of hindsight. Think about it. Scholars typically know far more about what was happening than did historical figures making the decisions. The fog of war has cleared. Passions have evanesced. Archives have been compiled, organized, and opened for leisurely research. And scholars know what took place afterward. They can trace cause-and-effect, using data not available to the protagonists to evaluate the results of their decisions.

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Britain's Eight Air Froce Earned Its Wings While Bombing Nazi Germany

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 21:30

Warfare History Network


The destructive power of the Eighth Air Force steadily grew during the bombing campaign against Nazi Germany.

General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, commander of the U.S. Army Air Forces, was a man both driven and under great pressure in the spring and early summer of 1942.

He wanted his bombers and fighters in the air as soon as possible, operating from airfields in Great Britain and joining the hard-pressed Royal Air Force in its offensive against Nazi Germany. He had promised British Prime Minister Winston Churchill action by July 4.

The jovial Arnold had to justify USAAF appropriations to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Congress, and the public. In addition, he had to maintain aircraft production and strategic priorities in the face of challenges from the British and the U.S. Navy. All of this required a perception of the USAAF as a successful and aggressive offensive weapon. FDR demanded results justifying the massive aircraft production and shipping program.

But by that summer, several months before it had become a force to be reckoned with, Arnold’s growing air arm also needed to have its image bolstered. Navy carrier planes had won the climactic Battle of Midway, June 4-6, 1942, while officials and the public were still disturbed about the USAAF’s performance in December 1941 at Pearl Harbor and in the Philippines, where large numbers of aircraft had been destroyed on the ground by Japanese raiders.

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Democracy is a Threat to Freedom—That's Why We're Not One

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 21:00

Walter E. Williams

Politics, Americas

'Tyranny of the majority.'

During President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, we’ll hear a lot of talk about our rules for governing. One frequent claim is that our nation is a democracy.

If we’ve become a democracy, it would represent a deep betrayal of our Founders, who saw democracy as another form of tyranny.

In fact, the word democracy appears nowhere in our nation’s two most fundamental documents, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. The Founders laid the ground rules for a republic as written in the Constitution’s Article IV, Section 4, which guarantees “to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.”

John Adams captured the essence of the difference between a democracy and republic when he said, “You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe.”

Contrast the framers’ vision of a republic with that of a democracy. In a democracy, the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. As in a monarchy, the law is whatever the government determines it to be. Laws do not represent reason. They represent power. The restraint is upon the individual instead of the government.

Unlike that envisioned under a republican form of government, rights are seen as privileges and permissions that are granted by government and can be rescinded by government.

Here are a few quotations that demonstrate the contempt that our Founders held for a democracy. James Madison, in Federalist Paper No. 10, wrote that in a pure democracy, “there is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual.”

At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Edmund Randolph said that “in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy.”

Alexander Hamilton agreed, saying: “We are now forming a republican government. [Liberty] is found not in “the extremes of democracy but in moderate governments. … If we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy.”

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A Useless Work Of Art: America's B-58 Hustler Bomber Was a Disater

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 20:00

Robert Farley

Security, Americas

This Cold War bomber was beautiful, but pointless.

Key Point: In use for only a decade, the B-58 was incredibly hard to fly and had an excessively high accident rate.

In an era of fantastic aircraft, the B-58 Hustler was one of the most visually striking warplanes ever to fly. Its delta wing, giant engines, and remarkable performance gave rise to the myth that pilots could literally tear the wings off the bomber if they flew it too fast.

That wasn’t true, but the B-58 was nevertheless a difficult plane to fly. Although an engineering marvel, the Hustler suffered from appalling accident rate, high maintenance costs, and an obsolete mission profile. It would remain in service for only a decade, a dead-end in strategic bomber development.


The Hustler was a direct successor to the B-47 Stratojet in the medium bomber role. Medium bombers were expected to attack the Soviet Union from overseas bases. By the time the Hustler entered service, however, the distinction between the medium and the heavy bomber had narrowed, however. The advent of aerial refueling, combined with Air Force concerns about the security of forward airbases and the concerns of U.S. allies over the deployment of strategic nuclear weapons on their territory, meant that the B-58 would operate strictly from U.S. bases.

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Coronavirus: Is the Media Over Hyping the Threat?

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 19:45

Roger Bate

Politics, Asia

A contagion will happen at some point, and it’s important we recognize it and react. Unless the coronavirus mutates into something far more dangerous, this isn’t it. News and novelty seem to be driving policy.

Is it really acceptable to base public policy on the newsworthiness of a topic? I’ve seen several news reports essentially implying that, even if quarantining travelers or imposing travel bans to China are overreactions to the risk of the coronavirus, this is ok because it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The coronavirus is novel and, for susceptible people, can be fatal. This combination is enough to drive the ever-hungry 24-hour news media and increasingly political responses. There is no doubt that public health concerns of a lethal contagion are one of the very few good reasons to allow — even demand — governments to restrict our movements. But a disease with a fatality rate as low as the coronavirus does not really fit that description.

Ignoring public health for a second, there are concerns that global growth is slowing and that the coronavirus may worsen it. Well, it certainly will if we allow it to, especially if we intentionally slow the economy by restricting trade with China. Companies are so fearful of negative press that they seem to base much of their own rhetoric on what the media and liberal elites demand. While some of this is arguably harmless — note much of the hot air at Davos about climate change — when it becomes corporate policy and is echoed by government policy, it then has real consequences.

When issues lose their novelty, the media move on. But policy shouldn’t if it’s important. Take antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as an example. It’s boring to talk endlessly about cleaner hospitals, better drug use, limiting animal use of antibiotics, etc. But AMR kills orders of magnitude times more people every day than all novel infections combined. 

A contagion will happen at some point, and it’s important we recognize it and react. Unless the coronavirus mutates into something far more dangerous, this isn’t it. News and novelty seem to be driving policy.

This article by Richard Bate first appeared at AEI.

Image: Reuters.

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The Story of How Ulysses S. Grant Went From Store Clerk to Civil War Hero

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 19:30

Warfare History Network

History, Americas

A big shift.

The Confederate attack on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, marked the beginning of the American Civil War. Ulysses S. Grant was working as a clerk in his family’s leather business in Galena, Illinois. He would eventually become commanding general of the United States Army.

When the Civil War started in 1861, there were only two officers in the Union Army who had commanded a force in battle larger than a brigade. They were John E. Wool and Winfield Scott. At age 77, Wool was two years older than Scott and was showing the effects of his age. However, during the war, Wool served with distinction in the Eastern and Middle Departments. Winfield Scott was the general in chief of the army.

A major difficulty at this time was finding officers who were competent enough to organize, administer, and command large armies in combat. The vast majority of young officers—who had never seen a force larger than the 14,000-man assemblage Scott had commanded in the war with Mexico—had only limited experience in commanding small units. Most of these had attended West Point and, as a result, had been trained mainly in the areas of engineering, fortifications, and mathematics. Only a small portion of their schooling had been dedicated to strategic and tactical thought. At the same time, they received very little instruction on how to effectively administer an army or how to organize a group of officers for staff work.

As the Civil War slowly expanded into a major conflict, a number of officers began to demonstrate skills that allowed them to persevere through the early period of the war. Eventually the innate qualities that are so important for good leadership began to propel these men into significant positions of command. Ulysses S. Grant was one.

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A Smaller Midway? Fighting Japan In The Solomon Isles Was Critical To Winning World War II

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 19:00

Warfare History Network

History, Asia

To neutralize the major Japanese base at Rabaul, American troops would need to take Bougainville in the Soloman Islands.

Key Allied victories in the Pacific have been singled out as seminal turning points against the Japanese. The American Navy’s sinking of four enemy carriers at Midway crippled future Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) initiatives on the scale mounted during the war’s initial six months.

The six-month-long, grueling Japanese defense and ultimate conquest of Guadalcanal by American land, sea, and air forces—after the initial Marine amphibious invasion of that southern Solomon island on August 7, 1942—halted the Japanese southeastward strategic advance to sever the sea lanes to the Antipodes.

What has been ignored, however, is the backbreaking series of defeats that the Japanese suffered in their attempts to defend New Georgia, Kolombangara, and Bougainville in the Central and Northern Solomons. The losses of Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) units, IJN ships, and aircraft and crews could never be replaced after the defeats suffered on these hellacious jungle islands, especially given the requisite presence of Imperial forces on the Central Pacific and New Guinea fronts.

Major General Allen H. Turnage, commanding the 3rd Marine Division, which had invaded Bougainville in November 1943, wrote, “Never had men in the Marine Corps had to fight and maintain themselves over such difficult terrain as was encountered on Bougainville.”

Major General Alexander A. Vandegrift, who commanded the 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal and then the I Marine Amphibious Corps (IMAC) for the Bougainville landings, commented that the Bougainville “jungle [was] worse than we had found on Guadalcanal.”

Stanley Frankel, the U.S. Army’s 37th Infantry Division historian, wrote about the Japanese counteroffensive against the U.S. Army’s XIV Corps perimeter at Cape Torokina on Bougainville in March 1944: “The curtain was about to rise on one of the bloodiest, most fanatical Banzai attacks made by the Japanese in the South Pacific War … against a civilian army of battling clerks, farmers, mechanics, schoolboys, business men.”

Another Marine veteran of Guam and Iwo Jima recounted, “Of all the 28 months I spent overseas, nothing compared to Bougainville for miserable living conditions….  Bougainville had to be the closest thing to a living hell that I ever saw in my life.”

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UN chief ‘deeply concerned’ by military escalation in northwest Syria

UN News Centre - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 18:33
The UN Secretary-General has called for an immediate cessation of hostilities in northwest Syria.

Meet Hitler's Nazi Kamikaze Death Machines

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 18:30

Michael Peck

Security, Europe

The pilots would fly fighters stripped of all weapons and armor to make them as fast as possible.

Key point: Other pilots had been known to dive their already-crippled aircraft on to their targets, and the Saudi Arabian 9/11 hijackers added their own monstrous legacy.

April 7, 1945, should have been just another high-explosive day over Nazi Germany. That morning, as they had done on so many mornings for the past three years, the bomb-laden B-17s and B-24s lumbered into the sky from their airfields in southern England. An armada of 1,300 bombers, snug under the protection of 850 P-47 and P-51 fighters, droned majestically over the North Sea toward their targets in northern Germany. Marked for destruction were oil facilities and arms factories near Hamburg, as well as airfields where the revolutionary Messerschmitt 262 jet fighters were based.

No combat mission over Nazi Germany could ever truly be a “milk run.” Yet the Eighth Air Force had come a long way since the dark days of late 1943, when its raids against Regensburg and Schweinfurt cost 20 percent of the bombing force. By April 1945, only a month away from Hitler's suicide and the Thousand-Year Reich's surrender, Germany's defenses were disintegrating.  The Luftwaffe, crippled by fuel shortages and lack of trained pilots, was only capable of sporadic—albeit still deadly—attacks. German jets outclassed the slower propeller-driven Allied bombers and fighters, but there weren't many of them. At this stage in the war, the biggest problem for the American and British bomber fleets wasn't German aircraft, but rather finding fresh cities that hadn't already been bombed to rubble.

Since the first Flying Fortresses had appeared over Germany in January 1943, the Luftwaffe had thrown everything it could think of to knock down the big American four-engined bombers. Single-engine fighters, twin-engined fighters, bombers converted into fighters, fighters carrying anti-tank guns, aerial rockets, and aerial bombs dropped into the bomber formations. The Luftwaffe was caught in a chicken-and-egg crossfire: to shoot down massed formations of heavy bombers bristling with machine guns, the Germans needed heavily armed and armored fighters. But these clumsy “assault fighters” were easy prey for the nimbler American fighter escorts.

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Meet Canada's CF-105 Avro Arrow: The Super Jet You Never Heard Of

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 18:00

Robert Farley


A big, beautiful fighter, the Arrow offered a promise to patrol Canadian airspace for decades.

Key point: The legend of the Arrow did not die with its cancellation.

In the early 1950s, the Canadian government began to solicit orders for a new high-speed interceptor. The explosion in jet technology had rendered Canada’s first- and second-generation interceptors obsolete; in order to patrol Canada’s vast airspace, the Royal Canadian Air Force would need something awesome.

Avro Canada answered the call with the CF-105 Avro Arrow, a high-performance interceptor on the cutting edge of existing aviation technology. A big, beautiful fighter, the Arrow offered a promise to patrol Canadian airspace for decades, while also throwing a lifeline to Canada’s military aviation industry.

But the Arrow was not to be. Changes in technology, politics and defense priorities would work to kill the CF-105, and with it the greater portion of Canada’s defense aviation industry. Still, the legend of the Avro Arrow would survive for a very long time.

An Interceptor

The Arrow emerged as part of the same intellectual and engineering ferment as the B-58 Hustler and the MiG-21 Fishbed. The early 1950s saw remarkable leaps in airframe and engine technology, such that developmental aircraft offered enormous improvements in capability over existing warplanes. Jets designed in the early part of the decade were utterly obsolete by the end.

The expansion of Soviet Long-Range Aviation provided the strategic backdrop. In the late 1940s, the USSR built its first fleet of strategic bombers around the Tu-4, a copy of the American B-29 Superfortress. The next generation of Soviet bombers could fly faster and higher, and would undoubtedly cross Canadian airspace on its way to targets in the United States. Canada’s interceptor of the early 1950s, the CF-100 Canuck, could neither catch nor kill these fast bombers.

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Sorry, Trump: The Founders Would Want To Hear Impeachment Witnesses

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 17:30

Clark D. Cunningham


In my work as a law professor studying original texts about the U.S. Constitution, I’ve read statements made at the Constitutional Convention that demonstrate the Founders viewed impeachment as a regular practice, with three purposes.

Senators will soon decide whether to dismiss the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump without hearing any witnesses. In making this decision, I believe they should consider words spoken at the Constitutional Convention, when the Founders decided that an impeachment process was needed to provide a “regular examination,” to quote Benjamin Franklin.

A critical debate took place on July 20, 1787, which resulted in adding the impeachment clause to the U.S. Constitution. Franklin, the oldest and probably wisest delegate at the Constitutional Convention, said that when the president falls under suspicion, a “regular and peaceable inquiry” is needed.

In my work as a law professor studying original texts about the U.S. Constitution, I’ve read statements made at the Constitutional Convention that demonstrate the Founders viewed impeachment as a regular practice, with three purposes:

  • To provide a fair and reliable method to resolve suspicions about misconduct;
  • To remind both the country and the president that he is not above the law;
  • To deter abuses of power.

Good for the president and the country

Franklin persuasively argued that impeachment was a process that could be “favorable” to the president, saying it is the best way to provide for “the regular punishment of the executive when his misconduct should deserve it and for his honorable acquittal when he should be unjustly accused.”

Franklin may have carried the debate when he told his fellow delegates the story of a recent dispute that had greatly troubled the Dutch Republic.

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Ethical Kangaroo Skins? Here's a Surprising Eco-Friendly Industry Saving Rural Australia

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 17:00

Fabri Blacklock

economy, Australia

Don't knock it until you try it.

The Versace fashion house recently announced it had stopped using kangaroo skins in its fashion collections after coming under pressure from animal rights group LAV.

Kangaroo meat and skin has an annual production value of around A$174 million, with skins used in the fashion and shoe manufacturing industries.

There are legitimate questions regarding the ethical manner in which kangaroos are killed. But Indigenous people have long utilised the skins of kangaroos and possums. Versace’s concerns may have been allayed by understanding more about our traditions and practices.

Reviving skills

There has always been concern around how native animals are treated while alive and how they are killed to cause as little distress, pain and suffering as possible. Campaigners say 2.3 million kangaroos in Australia are hunted each year. Official sources cite this figure as the national quota, but put the number actually killed at around 1.7 million.

Australian Aboriginal people have for many thousands of years utilised native animals, predominantly kangaroos and possums. Consciously and sustainably, every part of the animal was used. The kangaroo meat was eaten, the skins used to make cloaks for wearing, teeth used to make needles, sinew from the tail used as thread.

The cloaks were incised with designs on the skin side significant to the wearer representing their totems, status and kinship. Cloaks were made for babies and added to as the child grew into adulthood, and people were buried in their cloakswhen they died.

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Why The F-15 Must Fear Russia's Su-27 Fighter

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 16:45

Robert Farley

Security, Eurasia

The USSR's best plane.

Key Point: The Su-27 was good enough to outlive the Cold War.

To the West, most of the legendary Soviet aircraft of the Cold War came from the design bureau Mikoyan Gurevitch, which spawned such aircraft as the MiG-15 “Fagot,” MiG-21 “Fishbed,” MiG-25 “Foxbat” and MiG-29 “Fulcrum.” The single best Soviet fighter of the Cold War, however, was Sukhoi’s Su-27 “Flanker.” Intended both to defeat U.S. fighters over central Europe in a NATO-Warsaw Pact conflict and to patrol the airspace of the Soviet Union against U.S. bomber incursions, the Su-27 survived the end of the Cold War to become one of the world’s premier export fighters.


The Flanker emerged as part of the high part of the high-low fighter mix that both the United States and the Soviet Union adopted in the 1970s and 1980s. In the U.S. Air Force this manifested in the F-15 and F-16; in the U.S. Navy, the F-14 and F/A-18. The MiG-29 “Fulcrum” played the light role in the Soviet partnership.

Sukhoi designed the Flanker with the capabilities of the F-15 Eagle firmly in mind, and the aircraft that emerged resembles the fast, heavily armed, long-ranged Eagle in many ways. Whereas the Eagle looks healthy and well-fed, the Flanker has a gaunt, hungry appearance. Although designed as an air superiority aircraft, the Su-27 (much like the Eagle) has proven flexible enough to adapt to interceptor and ground strike roles. Sukhoi has also developed a wide family of variants, specialized for particular missions but retaining overall multirole capabilities.

The Su-27 entered service more slowly than its fourth-generation counterparts in the United States (or the MiG-29, for that matter). A series of disastrous tests bedeviled the program’s early years, with several pilots dying in early versions of the Flanker. As it entered service in the mid-1980s, production problems slowed its transition to front-line status. And of course, the end of the Cold War curtailed the overall production run of the aircraft.

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The Military Wants to Adapt AI for Businesses Before It Goes on the Battlefield

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 16:37

Jared Keller

Technology, Americas

An interesting, if odd, idea?

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon’s Silicon Valley outpost awarded Inc. in Redwood City, Calif., a contract for software that predicts when military aircraft will need repairs. Defense News reports. Continue reading original article

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

30 Jan. 2020 -- The artificial intelligence (AI) tool would make more aircraft available for missions and could potentially save billions of dollars in maintenance costs. The deal is worth as much as $95 million and is expected to run for five years.

In late 2017, just 90 days after first meeting with Department of Defense officials, reached a prototype agreement to evaluate and process maintenance records from the E-3 Sentry (AWACS) and to plan for repairs.

The deal was later extended for the evaluation to include the C-5 Galaxy and eventually the F-35. That prototype period ended in December. During that period, the predictive maintenance software was able to forecast about one-third of unscheduled maintenance events to subsystems.

This article by John Keller originally appeared on Military & Aerospace Electronics in 2019.

Image: Reuters.

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Bernie Sanders Wants Nationwide Rent Control—And It's a Bad Idea

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 16:30

James Pethokoukis

Politics, Americas

Imagine local politics on a national scale.

Sen. Bernie Sanders probably doesn’t expect there will ever be nationwide rent control. His presidential campaign proposal is more of the inspirational sort. As the Cato Institute’s Ryan Bourne writes in a new analysis, “What he is really doing here is endorsing a spate of new rent control laws across states, encouraging left‐wing activists to push for more stringent restrictions elsewhere.” 

The Sanders plan — limiting landlords to annual rent increases of three percent or 1.5 times inflation “whichever is higher” — also does at least one other thing: It gives insight into whether Sanders-style socialism offers a dynamic approach to governance. Does it evolve in reaction to evidence and experience? (That’s a question I asked in my recent The Week column, “Has Bernie Sanders learned anything over the past 50 years?”) 

Our experience with rent control certainly teaches a few lessons about central planning and markets. As economist Daniel Shoag explains in a 2019 report, “Economists have long understood that rent control creates substantial misallocation of housing since those grandfathered into below-market-rate units keep apartments even when they would be valued more highly by others. Rent control weakens incentives to supply housing, increases crime, and may ultimately lead to even more gentrification.” 

Market distortions and bad consequences everywhere you look. But recognizing that reality also requires recognizing that a central problem with housing affordability — particularly in high-wage, high-productivity cities — is government intervention via land-use regulation that limit housing construction. Housing prices are sending a message here. 

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Why the F-35s Crazy 'Beast Mode' Should Terrify North Korea, China (Or Anyone)

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 16:22

Mark Episkopos


It can take out multiple targets with ease.

Key point: The F-35 is seeing more success over time. Let's see if it endures.

Recently leaked video sheds light on one of the F-35’s possible weapons configurations, previously dubbed as “beast mode” in a Lockheed Martin infographic.

The video, dating back to November of 2018, depicts an F-35 simultaneously firing five air-to-surface missiles against five test targets. At least one of the targets-- a light vehicle-- can be seen moving.

Though it is presently unconfirmed where the trial took place and what kind of guided bomb was used, defense expert Ian D’Costa offered some clarifying insight to The Aviationist: “It’s an F-35 at NTTR (Nellis Test and Training Range), I could be wrong, but it [seems to be] dropping five Paveway IVs and hitting all five targets with GEOT (Good Effect On Target).”

While the site’s location remains disputed, the bombs depicted in the video are widely believed to be Paveway IV’s. Paveway IV is a 500-pound, British laser-guided bomb, described by the U.K military describes as “an advanced and highly accurate weapon that provides the RAF’s strike force with a state-of-the-art precision guided bombing capability.”

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Why Pelosi's Infrastucture Plan Would be a Total Trainwreck

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 16:15

David Ditch

Politics, Americas

Choo, choo.

House Democrats on Wednesday revealed their framework for infrastructure legislation this year, a package titled “Moving Forward.” The same day, the powerful House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on transportation-related revenues.

This was not a coincidence. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced two weeks ago that there would be a flurry of infrastructure-related activity.

Together, the document and the hearing combine to create a blueprint for tax hikes, wasteful spending, and more Washington control of the nation’s valuable infrastructure systems.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not wrong. Last February, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., unveiled the “Green New Deal,” a grand scheme designed to leverage environmental concerns on behalf of a big-government agenda.

The “Moving Forward” plan suffers from many of the same flaws. Like the Green New Deal, it includes subsidies for a variety of often unrelated industries, which would turn the sober work of infrastructure policy into a giveaway for favored lobby groups.

To take just one example, in the “Moving Forward” package, urban areas would receive a subsidy for mass transit while rural areas would receive subsidies for broadband deployment. The reason why the federal government should take money from people in one type of living arrangement to subsidize people living in another is never explained.

Both plans imagine—wrongly—that Congress and the federal government have the competence to oversee all of America’s roads, bridges, airports, waterways, utilities, and local first responders.

And both plans would funnel massive amounts of money into rail projects, which very few people would use (especially in the heartland) and would yield a minuscule reduction in carbon emissions.

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How Does the Coronavirus Compare With Previous Outbreaks?

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 16:14

Maciej F. Boni


As the new coronavirus continues to cross international borders, the two key questions on public health officials’ minds are: ‘How deadly is it?’ and ‘Can it be contained?’.

Key Point: It's been worse before.

As the new coronavirus continues to cross international borders, the two key questions on public health officials’ minds are: ‘How deadly is it?’ and ‘Can it be contained?’.

The two outbreaks in recent memory that give the most insight into these questions are the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, which spread from China to 26 other countries but was contained after eight months, and the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, which originated in Mexico and spread globally despite all containment efforts.

The severity and mortality of a novel emerging virus, which we scientists in this case are calling 2019-nCoV, are very difficult to judge when new data are coming in on a daily basis. During the 2009 influenza pandemic, the earliest reports listed 59 deaths from approximately 850 suspected cases, which suggested an extremely high case fatality of 7%.

However, the initially reported information of 850 cases was a gross underestimate. This was simply due to a much larger number of mild cases that did not report to any health system and were not counted. After several months – when pandemic data had been collected from many countries experiencing an epidemic wave – the 2009 influenza turned out to be much milder than was thought in the initial weeks. Its case fatality was lower than 0.1% and in line with other known human influenza viruses.

The case fatality for SARS, during its eight months of circulation, was just under 10%.

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Why Stonewall Jackson's Death Became A Legend For The Ages

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 16:00

Warfare History Network


Stonewall Jackson’s death in May 1863 is the stuff of legend, but its true cause remains a matter of medical dispute.

Following his greatest victory, at the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863, Confederate Lt. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson was scouting ahead of the lines with members of his staff when tragedy struck. In the pitch blackness of the early-spring evening, Jackson and his men were mistaken for Union cavalry and fired upon by their own side. Jackson sustained a severe wound to his upper left arm, necessitating amputation. Upon hearing the news, victorious General Robert E. Lee remarked, “He has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right.” Lee’s words proved prophetic. Eight days after the amputation, Jackson was dead.

It was a loss the Confederacy could ill afford. Before Chancellorsville, Jackson had enjoyed the fortuitous combination of personal skill as a commander, the ineptitude of his opponents, and the good luck that often follows such a combination. He had begun the Civil War as an unknown professor at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, after having distinguished himself during the Mexican War 15 years earlier. Fresh out of the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he had graduated a hard-won 17th in a class of 59, Jackson had earned two brevets for gallantry as an artillery officer during the Mexican War. By the end of the war, he had become a brevet major at the age of 24. He resigned his commission in 1852 to take the position of professor of artillery tactics and natural philosophy at VMI.

Jackson Volunteers for War

Jackson was commissioned a colonel of volunteers in April 1861 and promoted to brigadier general two months later. He won fame at the Battle of First Manassas on July 21, 1861, where his staunch defense of Henry Hill earned him the memorable nickname “Stonewall.” He was promoted to major general in October and appointed commander of all Confederate forces in the Shenandoah Valley the following month.

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