Saturday, October 31, 2015

Patriarch Bartholomew To Visit Great Britain

On Sunday 1 November,His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew,spiritual leader of all Orthodox Christians,will begin a four day visit to Great Britain at the invitation of His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby,Leader of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.They had met for the first time last year in Istanbul.According to His Eminence the Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain Gregorios,the patriarch's visit will consist of two parts:
1.Meeting and blessing his flock in Britain and Ireland;and
2.a series of official contacts with the Archbishop of Canterbury and his associates.
Among the worship services will be Great Vespers at the Cathedral of the Divine Wisdom,Bayswater,London at 6:00 pm on Monday 2 November.His All Holiness will preside and preach at the service.At 8:00 pm, an Official Dinner in the patriarch's honour will be held at the Hotel Marriott,Central London.On Tuesday 3 November,the patriarch will attend Evensong at Westminster Abbey and a memorial at the Shrine of St.Edward the Confessor.*
Patriarch Bartholomew's other activities will include a visit to Lambeth Palace,the official London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury,and an ecological discussion,as well as the presentation of an agreed statement by the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue,In the Image and Likeness of God:A Hope-Filled Anthropology (the meaning of human personhood in the divine image),to both spiritual leaders.Orthodox representatives on the Commission are from the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Churches of Alexandria,Antioch,Jerusalem,Moscow,Serbia,Cyprus,Greece,Albania,Georgia and Poland.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Walgreens Boots Alliance Acquires Rite Aid To Form Drug Store Colossus

Walgreens Boots Alliance has purchased Rite Aid for 9.4 billion dollars.Walgreens,which has more than 13,200 stores in the US,Canada,UK and eight other countries,will absorb Rite-Aid's approximately 4600 stores in 31 states,for a total of some 17,800 drug stores.The merger is the latest chapter in a trend within the health care sector,spurred on by Obamacare,to cut costs by combining operations and gaining bargaining power with drug companies and insurers by increasing size.Rival CVS Caremark has more than 7800 stores.*
Walgreens does business in the US under the Walgreens and Duane Reede names,and under the Boots name outside the US.The company's CEO is Italian Stefano Pessina,who was the executive chairman at Alliance Boots GmbH before it merged with Walgreens.
Rite Aid stores will initially continue under the Rite Aid name.Anti-trust regulators in the US could possibly require the divestment of some Walgreens assets,as there will only be two competitors of any size post-merger.*
The merged company will have 41% of US market share versus 58% for CVS.*
Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc (WBA),Rite Aid Corp (RAD)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Former SecDef Gates:Putin,Russia and NATO

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning,holding forth with some well-informed views on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his policies,as well as NATO's response to them.Dr.Gates served as Secretary of Defense from 2006-11 under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.Before that,he was a US Air Force officer and then served as Director of Central Intelligence under President George H.W. Bush from 1991-3,among other positions.He is currently Chancellor of the College of William & Mary.*
I had a number of opportunities to interact with Mr.Putin when I was in office,Dr.Gates said.We have similar backgrounds.I told him that while he was a lieutenant colonel in the KGB,I was Deputy Director of the CIA.What he has been most affected by was the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire.Ukraine has been part of that for a very long time.He is all about lost power,lost glory,lost empire.He aspires to:
1.Restore Russia to great power status,so that nothing may be done without Russia's involvement and approval;
2.To create a buffer of friendly or at least frozen states on the borders of Russia,such as Eastern Ukraine.
I think that he will be very opportunistic in pressing these objectives,but he is not a madman;and if he meets some difficulties and resistance along the way,he will pull back.In Syria,he wants to keep the Russian naval base at Tartus and the Russian military presence there.He isn't set on keeping President Bashar al-Assad in office;he would be willing to replace him with someone acceptable to Russia at the appropriate time.If he also has the opportunity to poke the United States in the eye,he will not miss that opportunity.
He has a lot more forces on the Ukrainian border than we or NATO have or can put on the opposite side.His limit is in the Middle East,where he is farther away and has a long supply line.We should decide what we want to do in Syria and just tell the Russians this is what we want to do and stay out of the way,such as our establishing a safe haven in Northern Syria.I think he knows exactly what he's doing and,at least in the short or medium term,he's been successful at it.*
Every decade has a variety of challenges.I think it's fair to say we have not had so many challenges in as many parts of the world as we do today.*
I agree with the NATO steps that have been taken to increase the US presence in Europe.The idea of prepositioning equipment sets has a lot of merit.I think I would work very closely with our NATO partners on considering the wisdom of having permanent US troops in Poland or the Baltics.There's always a risk of taking it a step too far.Enhancing the air patrolling and responding to Russian violations,regular NATO exercises-Putin has provoked all of this.He has created enough alarm that our Allies want to participate in these forward operations in Europe with us.I remember a time when they wanted nothing to do with it.Putin has a lot more forces in Europe than NATO,with a lot shorter supply line.*
Russia has been interested in getting out of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty for several years.Even in my time,the Russian Defence Minister approached me saying we are the only two countries who can't deploy INFs.It would not surprise me in the least if they went ahead with it,Dr.Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday morning.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

[HD] Bombardier CS100 awesome low pass & landing with water salute at ZR...

Bombardier's New Aircraft On Track

Bombardier say its CSeries CS100 aircraft will be certified by year end,despite a lack of firm order flow so far this year.The Montreal-based transport manufacturer remains fully committed to the new plane.Vice President of Business Acquisition Ross Mitchell said they were in discussions with potential European customers and the first CS100 is on track for delivery to Swiss Air International in the first half of 2016.
The CS100 is one of a new line of narrow body twin engine airliners.The jet is designed to compete with the Airbus A320 family;the Boeing 737 series;and Embraer's 190 series,among others.Test flights began on 16 September 2013.*
The CS100 features a 2-2,2-2 seating arrangement-meaning no middle seats;larger windows;more overhead luggage bin volume;and wider aisles than the other narrow bodies.Its 70% advanced materials proportion,including composites and titanium/aluminium,will give the aircraft a 15% lower seat mile cost and lower maintenance costs,Bombardier points out.*
Bombardier Inc A(BDRAF):NASDAQ,(BBD/B):TO

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

General Campbell:Too Soon To Depart Afghanistan

General John F. Campbell,US Army,commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan,provided one of his periodic updates on the Afghan War to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.If the current plan to cut US troop levels there down to 1,000 by the end of 2016 goes ahead,our ability to provide train,advise and assist would be very limited,General Campbell said.Just from Kabul,I couldn't do a counterterror mission.
1.We need to continue to build the Afghan capacity for their CT element.It's going to take time to be able to raise it.
2.To have a CT capability to keep pressure on some of the ungoverned spaces.Our CT forces are the best in the world.They welcome us there.Their Par One Prison is the gold standard for terrorist prisons.*
We're seeing a switch of Taliban in Pakistan to ISIL.Pakistani General Raheel Sharif and I spoke as late as last week.He said ISIL has no place in Pakistan.I believe he is genuine and is pushing his army and intel to fight Daesh (the Arab term for ISIL).We put Daesh in the category of operationally emergent in Afghanistan,with them putting in a base in Nangarhar Province.Afghan President Ghani is concerned,and Daesh is a priority information requirement for me.We're trying to partner Pakistan and Afghanistan to look at it.The open press estimates there are anywhere between 1,000-3,000 Daesh in Afghanistan.*
The Afghan National Defence and Security Forces have really impacted the Taliban this year,based on the casualties we've seen.For the police element,the number one issue is to get the right leadership.There are many police without training that have been hired.I believe that training is the key.In many cases,they're doing the same thing as the Army,without being manned and equipped like the Army.*
The Allies that I've engaged with,for the most part,are very supportive.Once the US makes the decision to keep more troops in Afghanistan,we'll see NATO come into that-absolutely.
It becomes a matter of physics.Every single day,we continue to de-scope our bases out there.I've also made sure it's not irreversible.This is a very critical year for 2016.The NATO Warsaw conference will decide their troop commitments for 2016-20.*
I provided my senior leadership with courses of action based on the changes that have happened the last few years:the growth of Daesh;the actions by Pakistan;the new Afghan leadership of President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Dr.Abdullah Abdullah.We've built the Afghans an Army and police they cannot afford.They're going to need the help of the international community.We need a year and a half to train,advise and assist the ANDSF.
In all of our courses of action,my senior leadership would have an irreversible decision point.We are overwhelmingly welcomed by the Afghan leadership and civilians.Presence equals influence.They will continue to want a coalition presence.They understand that we've provided a lot of blood,sweat and tears,and don't want to let us down.Based on what's happened since 2014,I believe we still have to do TAA for aviation,logistics,intel and special operations.The conditions on the ground have changed,and we need to look at the pros and cons of that.
I think everyone's looking at Daesh to make sure it doesn't grow to the lengths it has in Iraq and Syria.Upwards of 20-30% of Taliban are irreconcilable;Daesh is irreconcilable at this point in time.We've got to continue to move toward a peace process with the Taliban.Coalition presence has a great impact on President Ghani,the ANDSF,the people.Deciding on a larger coalition force would have a huge impact there.Afghanistan will continue to be a very dangerous place,and the ANDSF will continue to be challenged.You absolutely need to operate from a position of strength to pursue the reconciliation process there.*
Their close air support is just starting to grow.Starting at the end of the year,they will start to have a fixed wing capability,but it will be 2017-18 before it is fully online.Whenever you put a time on something,you always give somebody a chance to manipulate that.To get down to 1,000 US troops by the end of 2016,you would have to start in January,General Campbell advised the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Pakistan: overview of taliban attack on air force base - 18 September 2015