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Posts tagged ‘Japan’

China F-35: Secrets Stolen From US Show Up in Its Stealth Fighter.


China obtained F-35 secrets through an extensive cyber spy operation carried out in 2007 against U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin, U.S. officials and defense analysts said, and they have shown up China’s new stealth fighter jet.

Codenamed Operation Byzantine Hades, the multiyear cyber-espionage operation yielded sensitive technology about the United States’ latest fighter jet which in turn was incorporated into the development of China’s new J-20 fighter, the Washington Times reported.

According to Defense officials, a Chinese military unit known as the Technical Reconnaissance Bureau (TRF), located in the nation’s Chengdu province, was behind the cyber-espionage. Once the data had been acquired, the TRF is said to have transferred it to the state-run Aviation Industry Corp. of China, which then used that stolen data in building the J-20 fighter jet, the Washington Free Beaconreported.

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Having started 10 years ago, the F-35 development program is a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon that has cost $392 billion, making it the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program ever. The program’s original price tag was $233 billion; however it ballooned due to delays brought on by cost overruns.

Referred to as a “fifth-generation” warplane, the F-35 fighter jet will be replacing the popular F-16 and more than a dozen other warplanes that are currently in use by the United States and foreign governments around the world.

As of late 2013, the U.S. partner countries of Britain, Canada, Australia, Norway, the Netherlands, Italy, Turkey and Denmark, Israel, and Japan have already ordered F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin.

Also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35 is said to be the most technically-advanced plane in the United States’ arsenal with 7.5 million lines of computer code controlling its weapons system, which is triple the amount of coding currently used in the top Air Force fighter, the Government Accountability Office told The Wall Street Journal.

“You’ve seen significant improvements in Chinese military capabilities through their willingness to spend, their acquisitions of advanced Russian weapons, and from their cyber-espionage campaign,” James A. Lewis, a cyber-policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Washington Post. “Ten years ago, I used to call the [People's Liberation Army] the world’s largest open-air military museum. I can’t say that now.”

In addition to the apparent cyber theft of secrets pertaining to the F-35’s development, China has also reportedly accessed other U.S. weapons systems, including the Patriot missile system, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, and the Army’s ballistic missile interceptor program.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Michael Mullins

US, France Warn Russia of ‘New Measures’ Over Ukraine.


President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande warned Saturday of “new measures” against Russia if it fails to work toward defusing the crisis in Ukraine, the French presidency said.

In a phone call on Saturday, Obama and Hollande insisted on the “need for Russia to withdraw forces sent to Crimea since the end of February and to do everything to allow the deployment of international observers,” it said.
Obama’s conversation with Hollande was one of a half dozen telephone conversations he had with world leaders Saturday about Ukraine, the White House says.

He  also spoke with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, and held a conference call with the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

The new warnings come in the wake of Russia’s insistence that any U.S. sanctions will have a boomerang effect on the United States and that Crimea has the right to self-determination as armed men tried to seize another Ukrainian military base on the peninsula.

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In a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned against “hasty and reckless steps” that could harm Russian-American relations, the foreign ministry said on Friday.

“Sanctions…would inevitably hit the United States like a boomerang,” it added.

It was the second tense, high-level exchange between the former Cold War foes in 24 hours over the pro-Russian takeover of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said after an hour-long call with U.S. President Barack Obama that their positions on the former Soviet republic were still far apart. Obama announced the first sanctions against Russia on Thursday.

Putin, who later opened the Paralympic Games in Sochi which have been boycotted by a string of Western dignitaries, said Ukraine’s new, pro-Western authorities had acted illegitimately over the eastern, southeastern and Crimea regions.

“Russia cannot ignore calls for help and it acts accordingly, in full compliance with international law,” he said.

Serhiy Astakhov, an aide to the Ukrainian border guards’ commander, said 30,000 Russian soldiers were now in Crimea, compared to the 11,000 permanently based with the Russian Black Sea fleet in the port of Sevastopol before the crisis.

On Friday evening armed men drove a truck into a Ukrainian missile defence post in Sevastopol, according to a Reuters reporter at the scene. But no shots were fired and Crimea’s pro-Russian premier said later the standoff was over.

Putin denies the forces with no national insignia that are surrounding Ukrainian troops in their bases are under Moscow’s command, although their vehicles have Russian military plates. The West has ridiculed his assertion.

The most serious East-West confrontation since the end of the Cold War – resulting from the overthrow last month of President Viktor Yanukovich after protests in Kiev that led to violence – escalated on Thursday when Crimea’s parliament, dominated by ethnic Russians, voted to join Russia.

The region’s government set a referendum for March 16 – in just nine days’ time.

JETS, DESTROYER

Turkey scrambled jets after a Russian surveillance plane flew along its Black Sea coast and a U.S. warship passed through Turkey’s Bosphorus straits on its way to the Black Sea, although the U.S. military said it was a routine deployment.

European Union leaders and Obama said the referendum plan was illegitimate and would violate Ukraine’s constitution.

The head of Russia’s upper house of parliament said after meeting visiting Crimean lawmakers on Friday that Crimea had a right to self-determination, and ruled out any risk of war between “the two brotherly nations”.

Obama ordered visa bans and asset freezes on Thursday against so far unidentified people deemed responsible for threatening European Union leaders Ukraine’s sovereignty. Earlier in the week, a Kremlin aide said Moscow might refuse to pay off any loans to U.S. banks, the top four of which have around $24 billion in exposure to Russia.

Japan endorsed the Western position that the actions of Russia constitute “a threat to international peace and security”, after Obama spoke to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

China, often a Russian ally in blocking Western moves in the U.N. Security Council, was more cautious, saying economic sanctions were not the best way to solve the crisis and avoiding comment on the Crimean referendum.

The EU, Russia’s biggest economic partner and energy customer, adopted a three-stage plan to try to force a negotiated solution but stopped short of immediate sanctions.

The Russian Foreign Ministry responded angrily on Friday, calling the EU decision to freeze talks on visa-free travel and on a broad new pact governing Russia-EU ties “extremely unconstructive”. It pledged to retaliate.

“GUERRILLA WAR?”

Senior Ukrainian opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko, freed from prison after Yanukovich’s overthrow, met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Dublin and appealed for immediate EU sanctions against Russia, warning that Crimea might otherwise slide into a guerrilla war.

Brussels and Washington rushed to strengthen the new authorities in economically shattered Ukraine, announcing both political and financial assistance. The regional director of the International Monetary Fund said talks with Kiev on a loan agreement were going well and praised the new government’s openness to economic reform and transparency.

The European Commission has said Ukraine could receive up to 11 billion euros ($15 billion) in the next couple of years provided it reaches agreement with the IMF, which requires painful economic reforms like ending gas subsidies.

Promises of billions of dollars in Western aid for the Kiev government, and the perception that Russian troops are not likely to go beyond Crimea into other parts of Ukraine, have helped reverse a rout in the local hryvnia currency.

In the past two days it has traded above 9.0 to the dollar for the first time since the Crimea crisis began last week. Local dealers said emergency currency restrictions imposed last week were also supporting the hryvnia.

Russian gas monopoly Gazprom said Ukraine had not paid its $440 million gas bill for February, bringing its arrears to $1.89 billion and hinted it could turn off the taps as it did in 2009, when a halt in Russian deliveries to Ukraine reduced supplies to Europe during a cold snap.

In Moscow, a huge crowd gathered near the Kremlin at a government-sanctioned rally and concert billed as being “in support of the Crimean people”. Pop stars took to the stage and demonstrators held signs with slogans such as “Crimea is Russian land”, and “We believe in Putin”.

IMPORTANT DIFFERENCES

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said no one in the civilised world would recognise the result of the “so-called referendum” in Crimea.

He repeated Kiev’s willingness to negotiate with Russia if Moscow pulls its additional troops out of Crimea and said he had requested a telephone call with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

But Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov ridiculed calls for Russia to join an international “contact group” with Ukraine proposed by the West, saying they “make us smile”.

Demonstrators encamped in Kiev’s central Independence Square to defend the revolution that ousted Yanukovich said they did not believe Crimea would be allowed to secede.

Alexander Zaporozhets, 40, from central Ukraine’s Kirovograd region, put his faith in international pressure.

“I don’t think the Russians will be allowed to take Crimea from us: you can’t behave like that to an independent state. We have the support of the whole world. But I think we are losing time. While the Russians are preparing, we are just talking.”

Unarmed military observers from the pan-European Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe were blocked from entering Crimea for a second day in a row on Friday, the OSCE said on Twitter.

The United Nations said it had sent its assistant secretary-general for human rights, Ivan Simonovic, to Kiev to conduct a preliminary humans rights assessment.

Ukrainian television has been replaced with Russian state channels in Crimea and the streets largely belong to people who support Moscow’s rule, some of whom have harassed journalists and occasional pro-Kiev protesters.

Part of the Crimea’s 2 million population opposes Moscow’s rule, including members of the region’s ethnic Russian majority. The last time Crimeans were asked, in 1991, they voted narrowly for independence along with the rest of Ukraine.

“With all these soldiers here, it is like we are living in a zoo,” Tatyana, 41, an ethnic Russian. “Everyone fully understands this is an occupation.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Newsmax Wires

The Unending Military Siege to Delta State By Ogaga Ifowodo.


 

Columnist:

Ogaga Ifowodo

Delta is a densely populated state that also happens to house a vast amount of oil and gas. The Sapele-Warri-Ughelli corridor, extending to Port Harcourt, is the industrial and commercial heartbeat of the state and has a high volume of vehicular traffic. A testimony to the socio-economic importance of this corridor is the never-to-be-completed East-West Road that spans four states: Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom. Yet, it is precisely the short stretch of it between Warri and Ughelli that the Federal Government has managed to make motorable, seven years and N349 billion after, that exhibits the unbearable hardship of military checkpoints (MCPs) through which a permanent siege has been laid to the state. If you have ever travelled on that road at peak hours, or worse, are a frequent commuter between Warri and any of the towns further south—Ughelli, Patani, and all of Isokoland—then a nightmare for you must be a dream of sandbags and oil barrels that create bottlenecks in the middle of your road.

On Saturday, the 15th, I set out from Warri with an older cousin—I call him Brother Reuben—and his wife on a trip to visit my mother in Otor-Owhe, but with stops in Iyede to attend a funeral and Oleh for a wedding.  We crawled through the first MCP at Okuokokor in about twenty minutes, though from the DSC roundabout where the East-West Road begins to the checkpoint is less than half a kilometre.  At about 11:05 AM, our progress was halted with sterner resolve as we fell into one of now-three-and-now-four lanes caused by the MCP just before Beta Glass Company. For forty–three minutes, we stewed in the sun and expressed our frustrations in hisses and impotent rage. As we passed through the checkpoint, we noticed that the sentry hut was empty and the two soldiers in the vicinity were chatting with someone in the nearby petrol station. Thankfully, they had ensured to deploy helmets atop the sandbags to stand in for them! On our return, at 6:20 PM, we saw the gridlock ahead and turned just in time at Delta Power Station into the Otor-Udu Road, an alternative route to our destination in the Udu-Ovwian area of Warri.  We might as well have gnashed our teeth through the Delta Glass MCP for we ran smack into another in Ujevwu! Suffice it to say that a journey of twenty minutes, give or take, from the Delta Glass MCP took a full hour longer. But we were lucky: I heard stories of two to three hours lost to the East-West Road checkpoints.

But why build roads, supposedly for the freer flow of traffic, and then erect obstacles in them to defeat the purpose?  To combat kidnappers, I am told. Very funny! And not only because the soldiers do not check vehicles, do not do any actual policing—are indeed often not to be seen at the checkpoints—but also because I am yet to hear of any kidnapper arrested at a military checkpoint. Despite being hemmed in by MCPs, Kelvin Oniarah, the alleged kidnap kingpin of Kokori was arrested in a hotel in Port Harcourt, while one Enueme Ogaga, his alleged sidekick, was nabbed in Ashaka far from a checkpoint. And outside Delta State, the report “Another kidnap kingpin, 6 robbers nabbed in Rivers” (Vanguard, 20 February 2014) informs us that the said kidnapper “was traced to a . . .  bank . . .  where he went to withdraw [the] ransom” paid for his victim.

Checkpoints are an extreme policing device suitable only for a town under military occupation. They are to be used sparingly and only for a specific and immediate goal, then promptly dismantled. As I ranted against military checkpoints—they are a gratuitous infliction of pain; they hinder movement and economic activity and we mount them with glee only because we are not a productive economy, are not in competition with any other nation (crude oil and gas do not travel on the roads); they show us as a conquered people, a land rendered comatose by military dictatorship and civilian brigandage, etc.—my auditors recounted their experiences. On hearing me swear to write a column about the MCPs, Mr George Okoro, a retired Shell Community Relations Coordinator, said, “Well, you may write all you want but our governments delight in seeing us suffer, that’s all.” The next day, on a visit to Professor G.G.  Darah in his Udu-Warri home, I was still in a huff and so, it turns out, was he about the ubiquity of checkpoints in Delta State. He had once counted, he said, “29 checkpoints between Auchi and Asaba.” Delta State, he declared, “is a war zone. You won’t see checkpoints coming from Abuja, until you leave Auchi.”

Elsewhere, countries that take themselves seriously strain to outdo their nearest competitors in lowering the cost of doing business, partly by shortening the time for travelling between two points. And so China develops its new high-speed trains with France, Japan and Germany as its competitors. We do not have a rail transport system that would pass the laugh test; all we have are inadequate and decrepit roads. And yet we find every reason to bring traffic to a halt on them. Perhaps the powers that be who authorised the permanent military siege to Delta State might care to prove Mr Okoro wrong?

omoliho@gmail.com

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Lamentation To The Cows Of Bashan – By Izuchukwu Okeke.


By Izuchukwu Okeke

It is 9 am as I stepped finally into the long-stretched passage. It was empty; no teacher, no students; only me. I was late, quite unfortunately. The lectures start at 9 am, and it is expected everyone be in the class at least 8:55 am. And, surely, here, once it is 8:55 the lecturers all file out to the various classes. And once it is 9 am, the classes start. If you arrive a minute past 9, you are late, as I was this day.

The reality of this empty passage sent my mind back to the country I was coming from. I was not even comparing the punctuality of the academic cadre or the standard of education itself. I was thinking of the massive collapse of its essence, its availability and the poverty of its prospects.

The night before, I read it on the Internet that lecturers in the Polytechnics were still on strike. They had been before the University lecturers joined in the middle of last year and continued till early this year. University students sat through 6 months dining with the two worst devils of life: idleness and boredom. The Polytechnic lecturers took few months break and had resumed strike again. And, as it seems, politicians are busy carpeting and cross carpeting; somehow they are not interested in the rants of these distracting academic hordes. So when will the students in Polytechnic go back to class? It is not even known.

I live in Korea, and in this country education is everything. I think it is not necessary to blow anymore horn about the strength of this nation’s economy, standards of their infrastructure and quality of their living standards; all hinged on the power and value of their education system. But it is worth mentioning what I found to be the major discrepancy between these two nations. Here, psyche is the central and most respected national resource; human resources are the strength of the government, the economy and the society, which is why education is everything. Every effort is invested and legitimately dispensed at developing the individual to become a global brand, to earn the capacity to compete with his mates anywhere they are found in the globe.

This country situated on the peninsula betwixt China, North Korea and Japan squat on a total of 100,210 km sq area of land. But unfortunately 72 percent of this land is hills, plateaus and mountains. Meaning that their populations of a little over 50,000,000 people live within the remaining clusters, in relatively higher density, 501.1/km2, higher than most nations of the world. From the shackles of Japanese domination in 1950, this country has risen in leaps and bounds. Among its endearing statistics is the fact that within these decades that followed its independence South Korea economy has been transformed into a G-20 major economy and has the second highest standard of living in Asia, having an HDI of 0.909.

Yes, South Korea is Asia’s fourth largest economy and the world’s 15th (nominal) or 12th (purchasing power parity) largest economy. But Korea has no Crude Oil, Tin, Iron Ore, Gold or Diamond Mines. This economy is export-driven. South Korean corporations like Samsung and LG (ranked first and third largest mobile phone companies in the world in the first quarter of 2012 respectively) dominate world markets, among the many beautiful, yet daunting stories of their transformation.

Behind this testimony of exemplary 50 decades of industrial development is an educational and social philosophy that underscores, perfectly well, that the true wealth of a nation is not its natural resources as much as it is its human resources. And each new day as I walk towards the class in Sunkyunkwan University, I am reminded of this philosophy. And also of wholly dedicated, hard-working, cheerful teachers who can go to any length to impart knowledge to the students. How many times I pity the extent of their personal sacrifice to advance the academic goals of their students. But they all work according to this country’s educational philosophy.

The classes are fully equipped with advanced learning infrastructure. The chalkboard a long time ago had given way to a board fully equipped with Power Point presentation facility, digitalized and connected to the Internet. Our test books are online and everything we have to do is online based and of the best standards compared to anywhere in the world.

Here, sadly, a 60 mark/grade after an exam is just a pass! Not even a credit. So any score less than 70, you have to go through a review to step you up and you have to write an exam to prove the review produced the expected result. And this and other factors have driven this nation from the brinks of poverty to industrial heights.

But, somehow, as I entered the class with these thoughts, I began, once again, to nurse that deep gorge of guilt that comes to me when I remember my country, Nigeria. That feeling also comes along with a certain gnawing pain of the advanced nature of ignorance spawned by our system on both the leaders and the lead that seems to suggest nothing will change soon. Since I was born the story has always been that the situation is bad for the common man. It had gone from worse, to worst, until there is no relative adverb to describe the situation now.

I did not cause Nigeria’s problem. I did not steal anybody’s money to be here. My father until his demise was a poor village farmer. My mother is still living off her labour in the farm. I am only a fortunate candidate of a scholarship programme. But this feeling when it comes doesn’t leave me soon. It keeps digging deep hole on my moral fibre. I keep wondering if there is a way I may have contributed to making Nigeria what it is. Leaving over 70 percent of her human population disillusioned and gasping for life, not knowing how and from which source the next meal will come. Seeking miracle in anything mentioned to possess divine power.

I was also keep wondering how Nigerian students abroad whose parents are part and parcel of this system that created the rot feel. How do they feel knowing their parents have left many of the nation’s youths disoriented and confused? How do they feel when their parents pay so much for them to study in this kind of environment, and knowing that this money, by every legitimate standards their parents cannot earn it? How do they feel when they remember that having messed up the system and exported them abroad to acquire the best education their parents left the system back home in total pell-mell. How do they feel to learn that their mates down in the villages are giving up legitimate endeavors and making career prospects in kidnapping and robbery? How do they really feel? Worse than I do? Or maybe they do not feel anything at all?

In the last one-month a drama has been playing out between the Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi on the one hand and Ministries of Finance, Petroleum and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, on the other. As it were the whole nation focused on it, because of the whopping amount of money involved. And as that drama played out, the reality of the hopelessness of the Nigerian situation dawned so much on me. That drama defines us in the mean time. Nobody in Nigeria’s governance system has an alternative thinking—or may be just a tiny minority of wayward thinkers who do not even possess the gut and grit to make it to the positions of governance.

To many of them there now at the corridors of power, be it political or bureaucratic, all they want is money. Everyone is talking money, oil money; how it is stolen, how it is not stolen! No one else is thinking. To Nigeria and Nigerians this oil money is everything. You have it, you have everything, you don’t have it, and you don’t have anything. That charade at the House of Assembly also defines the 2015 and the slapsticks of cross-carpeting that have become a daily news menu. Because everybody, everybody politician, wants to place himself at the vantage position to have a bite of the piece of the cake come 2015. They have been eating, and they want to keep eating.

Google, two regular guys’ idea is about to worth more than our oil. The Facebook founder is just 24 years old. But where are Nigerian youths? Is anybody concerned at the mess we left him or her? Of the frustration we are building up among them? Just education! Give them education, a qualitative one, so that they can on their own change their world, compete with their fellows elsewhere. No! Nigerian politicians do not see the resource in the youth. They are only tools used and dumped during elections.

In this generation Nigerian leaders are wired in pursuit of oil blocks and loots because in our clime ideas do not sell and if ideas sell, regular guys will become threats to Nigerian politicians. May be that is the fear. Because I do not see the big deal in investing 30 percent of our resources in revamping the educational system, and establishing it on the best standards and employ it to eliminate this endemic poverty in our clime.

As I sit in the class this day carrying this feeling and thinking these thoughts, the pain gnaws even harder that nothing will change. What will I write more than have been written these years, and what will I say that that has not been said? Like Amos in the bible called their likes, they are cows of Bashan. But we will keep lamenting to their ears. Even when they refuse to change, heaven will bear witness that we told them, as our fathers did.

Izuchukwu Okeke Job
KGSP Scholar
Sungkyunkwan University
Suwon, South Korea

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Kerry: China Willing to Pressure NKorea on Nukes.


Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday China is willing to exert more pressure to get North Korea to give up its nuclear program.

He told reporters in Beijing he was pleased that China “could not have more forcefully reiterated its commitment” to the goal of denuclearizing North Korea.

The reclusive Asian state has defied international warnings not to build atomic bombs and long-range missiles. It is believed to have enough fissile material to build up to 10 nuclear bombs, but most intelligence analysts say it has yet to master the technology to deploy such weapons.

“I encouraged the Chinese to use every tool at their disposal, all of the means of persuasion that they have, building on the depths of their long and historic and cultural and common history (with North Korea),” he said.

“They made it very clear that if the North doesn’t comply and come to the table and be serious about talks and stop its program … they are prepared to take additional steps in order to make sure their policy is implemented,” Kerry said, adding the United States and China were now discussing “the specifics of how you do that”.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Kerry China would work with all parties concerned, including the United States, to play a constructive role for the region’s peace and stability.

“China will never allow chaos or war on the Korean Peninsula,” Wang said, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.

North Korea was raised during Kerry’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Foreign Ministry said, with Xi “setting forth China’s stance”. It gave no other details.

The East and South China Seas featured prominently on Kerry’s agenda too, with him calling for a “more rule of law based, less confrontational regime”.

The United States is uneasy about what it sees as China’s effort to gain creeping control over waters in the Asia-Pacific region, including its Nov. 23 declaration of an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) in an area of the East China Sea that includes islands at the centre of a dispute with Japan.

China claims about 90 percent of the 3.5 million square km (1.35 million square mile) South China Sea, depicting what it sees as its area on maps with a so-called nine-dash line, looping far out over the sea from south China.

China and the Association of South East Asian Nations have been discussing a code of conduct for the South China Sea, and Kerry said he believed China was ready to achieve that goal.

“That would help reduce tensions that stem from the territorial and maritime disputes and, in the meantime, it’s very important that everybody build crisis management tools and refrain from coercive or unilateral measures to assert whatever claims any country in the region may have,” he said.

Wang said China was committed to a peaceful resolution for both the East and South China Seas disputes, but urged the United States not take sides and said China had an “unshakable resolve” to protect its sovereignty.

The United States should “respect historical facts and China’s sovereign interests, adhere to an objective and impartial stance and take tangible actions to promote mutual trust in the region so as to safeguard regional peace and stability”, Wang said.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims over the South China Sea, or parts of it.

Kerry said he told China it would be a bad idea to establish an air defence identification zone in the South China Sea, similar to the one it set up over the East China Sea late last year, which prompted protests from Washington, Tokyo and Seoul.

“We have made it very clear that a unilateral, unannounced, unprocessed initiative like that can be very challenging to certain people in the region, and therefore to regional stability,” he said.

Wang said China was confident it could maintain peace in the South China Sea by working with ASEAN, and denounced efforts by “certain people internationally” to hype up tensions and “spread untruths”. “China is resolutely opposed to this,” Wang said, without elaborating.

Climate change was also on the agenda of Kerry’s talks.

“We need to see if working together we could identify any further steps that we may be able to take, specifically with respect to arrival at meaningful targets with respect to the 2015 climate change conference that will take place in Paris in December of next year,” Kerry said.

 

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

CBO Report Underestimates Obamacare Damage to Employment, Economy.


In a new report, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) once again underestimates the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, on labor-force participation and the economy.

Gross domestic product (GDP), growth and employment for most workers will be harmed.

It estimates employment will be cut by 1.5 percent to 2 percent, thanks to workers choosing to cut hours or not work at all to obtain Obamacare subsidies for private insurance or maintain eligibility for Medicaid.

According to the report, lower employment only translates into a 1 percent reduction in worker compensation, owing to the concentration of those in low-wage categories.

However, the report fails to adequately calibrate the impact of higher Medicare taxes and the surcharge on interest, dividends and capital gains on the participation of older workers — especially high-productivity and entrepreneurial workers and business owners above age 50 but heretofore not yet inclined to cut hours or retire.

In addition, it fails to consider the consequences of distorted career paths on labor productivity, negative effects on research and development (R&D) spending and lower investment overall in the United States. Those activities will be lost to China, Japan and Germany and other competitors in Asia and Europe because of their lower healthcare costs.

Major industrialized competitors in Europe and Asia spend 9 percent to 12 percent of GDP, and often attain higher healthcare outcomes, while the United States spends 18 percent. And Medicare and Medicaid’s own actuaries expect the latter figure to rise under Obamacare, thanks to the inadequacies of cost controls.

Whether paid through direct taxes, business outlays for health insurance or penalties for failing to provide healthcare, as mandated by the Affordable Care Act, those costs weigh heavily on cost competitiveness and decisions to locate manufacturing and service activities in the United States, especially those critical to R&D effort and innovation.

The Obama administration argues that subsidies for healthcare and Medicaid give Americans more personal choices, and decisions not to work improve the performance of the economy.

Taken to its logical conclusion, the administration should provide direct cash payments to workers to abstain from seeking employment.

Rolling it all up, the impact on the economy beginning this year and escalating through the decade is likely in the range of $240 billion to $320 billion. This will damage the viability of the Social Security trust funds and shake state and local government finances.

More cities, like Detroit, will face bankruptcies. States like Illinois will face lower credit ratings and be forced to reduce funding for education, public safety and the like.

By failing to address the handicap imposed on American businesses by higher healthcare costs, the Affordable Care Act, like other efforts to equalize income, will slow growth to a pace more akin to lethargic European economies than emerging competitors in Asia.

Editor’s Note: 18.79% Annual Returns . . . for Life? 

© 2014 Moneynews. All rights reserved.

By Peter Morici Twitter @pmorici1

Economist Wiedemer: US, Global Economy to See ‘Very Slow’ Growth.


Noted economist Robert Wiedemer says the nation’s financial future reveals a split personality of soaring profits and continued employment woes.

“It is two different worlds. One is an asset price bubble, stocks are going up, real estate’s going up, and that actually should encourage people to spend more, buy more, boost the economy,” Wiedemer told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

“It’s amazing we’re having this kind of job problem when you have had such a good market and such a good real estate market. It’s obviously very, very out of touch with each other.”

Editor’s Note: 250% Gains Bagged Using Secret Calendar (See Video)

Story continues below video.

Wiedemer, author of “Aftershock: Protect Yourself and Profit in the Next Global Meltdown,” made his comments after the release of a federal jobs report Friday revealing that in December, employers added only 74,000 jobs, the slowest growth in three years.

He says the booming stock market won’t last forever — and only as long as the Fed continues to pour newly minted cash into the economy.

“Clearly the stock market is often a fantasy world and ultimately that’s going to change,” he said.

“I don’t really reconcile it other than the Fed is printing a lot of money and that’s boosting up asset prices, but clearly not helping the economy, anything like what they had hoped.”

Wiedemer, managing director of Absolute Investment Management, a macro-focused money management firm, called new Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen “Miss Money Printer — even more so than [Ben] Bernanke.

“We’re still printing $900 billion a year. Yes, that’s down from $1 trillion, but $900 billion is more than our entire money supply in 2007,” Wiedemer said.

As far as an ongoing economic rebound that has been predicted — don’t count on it, according to Wiedemer.

“I don’t think that we’re getting a rebound that people are talking about. We saw bad retail sales over Christmas. In fact, it was the first Black Friday weekend that we had no sales growth … actually, a decline from the previous year, and that’s in the last seven years,” he said.

“Even during the recessions, Black Friday grew. And to the jobs numbers, [that's] a telling sign. Healthcare jobs, which have been rock solid, have been growing for years, [but] we actually lost 1,000 healthcare jobs last month.

“So the economy is going to continue to be very slow in its growth, 2 percent, 2½ max, and again, that’s assuming the inflation adjustments are correct.”

The global economy isn’t going to flourish, either, Wiedemer says.

“The rest of the world’s not doing very well … Japan is slow, Europe’s slow, England, all of those countries are slow growth,” he said.

“Yes, they may have their ups and downs, but, fundamentally, it’s a very, very slow world economy and that’s reflected in the fact that, fundamentally, our jobs are not growing.

“The good jobs are certainly not growing. So I don’t see much growth in the U.S. economy. Perhaps the market can push up a little higher, but we’re stretching it more and more and it’s getting more and more dangerous.”

Wiedemer believes stocks are still a lucrative investment for the individual investor.

“The only investment that really performed well last year … were stocks. Bonds did poorly, commodities didn’t do too well with the exception of natural gas, which was the big winner … but for most normal investing, stocks worked,” he said.

“And I’m not saying they probably won’t be a good place to be in 2014. They could work again. Maybe not as well, but with lots of printing … stocks would do OK, even some high dividend stocks.”

But the longer term prognosis for the economy — five to 10 years — is troublesome, Wiedemer says.

“That’s where the real problem comes. Probably not as much over the next six to 12 months. I’m not saying it couldn’t be bumpy, but as long as they’re printing as much as they are, that’s certainly going to keep things up for a little while longer,” he said.

“Reality has to hit … then I’d be very worried about being locked in stocks.”

Editor’s Note: 
250% Gains Bagged Using Secret Calendar (See Video)

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