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Foreign Policy - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 13:00
Wuhan virus continues to spread, Trump's Middle East peace plan is unveiled, and calls for Scottish independence grow.

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

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 13:00

Sebastien Roblin


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 12:55

Warfare History Network


It went down in Russia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 12:35

Adam Taylor

Public Health, Europe


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

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


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

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

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

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Will Maryland Protect Its Childrens' Lemonade Stands?

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 12:30

GianCarlo Canaparo

Politics, Americas

Here's an opportunity to foil Big Government.

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

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

Just ask Xander Alpier, who testified at the hearing. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Firearm Fact: Sig Sauer Is Actually Split Between Two Companies

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 12:00

Charlie Gao


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

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

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

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

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

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 11:55

Gun News Daily

Security, Americas

It is possible.

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

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

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

How To Pack Your Firearm for Air Travel

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

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

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

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

How To Check Your Ammunition

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

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

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 11:30

Warfare History Network


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

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

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

Two Officers of Very Different Backgrounds

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

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

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

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 11:13

Kris Osborn

Technology, Americas

Wait, already?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 11:00

David Axe

Security, Europe

It's expensive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 10:30

Warfare History Network


Yet millions more still perished.

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

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

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

Russia and Germany Both Hard Up for Officers

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

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

Demoting Officers Who Fall Behind Expectations

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$1.4 billion needed this year to fund UN’s agency for Palestine refugees

UN News Centre - Fri, 31/01/2020 - 23:13
A minimum of $1.4 billion is needed to fund the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, known as UNRWA, the acting chief said on Friday.

U.N. Faults Iraq for Islamic State Prosecutions

Foreign Policy - Fri, 31/01/2020 - 21:43
Report cites “serious concerns that basic fair trial standards were not respected.”

Security Council renews Central African Republic arms embargo

UN News Centre - Fri, 31/01/2020 - 21:26
The UN Security Council on Friday renewed the arms embargo against the Central African Republic (CAR) and extended the mandate of the expert panel assisting its sanctions committee for the country. 

The digital building blocks of better communities

UN News Centre - Fri, 31/01/2020 - 21:18
In cities and communities across the world, citizens of all ages and backgrounds are getting the chance to literally play an important role in redesigning their public spaces, thanks to an innovative collaboration between the UN, and the company behind the popular computer game Minecraft.

Wuhan Virus Boosts Indonesian Anti-Chinese Conspiracies

Foreign Policy - Fri, 31/01/2020 - 20:58
Wild claims of Chinese plots are spreading fast on social media.

Trump’s Peace Plan Is Palestinians’ Worst Nightmare

Foreign Policy - Fri, 31/01/2020 - 20:39
Arab states might accept Trump’s one-sided initiative, but an increasingly vocal new generation of Palestinians won’t allow regional leaders to sign away their right to a sovereign homeland.

Trump Prepares for Victory Lap as Impeachment Trial Winds Down

Foreign Policy - Fri, 31/01/2020 - 20:38
Republicans successfully fight off a call for witnesses, but a final vote to acquit will come after next week’s State of the Union.

Human Trafficking Helps Terrorists Earn Money and Strategic Advantage

Foreign Policy - Fri, 31/01/2020 - 19:28
The United States should get serious about ending slavery once and for all.

So Long, Farewell

Foreign Policy - Fri, 31/01/2020 - 19:19
A transcript of Ursula von der Leyen’s remarks on Brexit