Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Operation Inherent Resolve:More Combat Power for the Iraq Campaign

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford,US Marine Corps,recently briefed reporters on the anti-ISIL Operation Inherent Resolve at the Pentagon.This comes as the Pentagon seeks more US troops for Iraq,possibly including Apache helicopter units and more Special Operations Forces.*
We continue to do more and more,said Mr.Carter.We are systematically eliminating the ISIL cabinet,including Haji Iman,who was their finance minister and a veteran of their precursor organisation,al-Qaida in Iraq.This is the second minister this month we've taken out,after their minister of war.We've taken out the leader who oversees the funding of ISIL operations.
Iraqi Security Forces have moved from their staging base at Makhmur.The US Marines are now providing artillery at the request of the Iraqis to help support the ISF advance against the enemy and protect their forces,so in both Syria and Iraq,we are seeing important steps to shape what will be crucial battles in the months to come.The US military will continue to work intensively with our coalition partners to build on this progress as our counterparts throughout our governments work to defend our homelands at the same time.
We're not going to go into any further details about how our coalition conducted the operations I mentioned earlier.These leaders have been around for a long time.They are senior;they are experienced,Mr.Carter explained.Note:SOFs were reportedly used to take out Haji Iman.*
We are facilitating ISF in staging around Mosul to begin to isolate Mosul and,as the Iraqis have announced,that has begun,said General Joseph Dunford.These Marines that were there near Makhmour,their artillery battery that was there,were in direct support of that.We put the battery there to support the Americans that were there advising the ISF and also to be in a position to provide support to the ISF.From my perspective,this is no different from aviation fires that we have been delivering.This is surface fires;they're artillery,but certainly no different conceptually than the fire support we've been providing to the Iraqis all along.And with regard to accelerants,the Secretary and I do expect that there will be increased capabilities provided to the Iraqis to set the conditions for their operations in Mosul.And those decisions haven't been made yet,but we certainly do expect more of the things that we saw in Ramadi-albeit a bit different,tailored for operations in Mosul;but again,the primary force fighting in Mosul will be the ISF,and we'll be in a position to provide advise,assist and enabling capabilities to make them successful.
We've had surface fires in Al Asad and other places,and we've used them in the past,so this is not a fundamental shift in our approach to support the ISF.This happened to be the most appropriate tool that the commander assessed needed to be in that location,General Dunford added.*
This is our approach to eliminating ISIL.The ISF are the ones who are carrying out the assault,the envelopment and assault,but we're helping them.That's been our approach and we'll continue to do that.It started in Ramadi;we'll continue going up to Mosul,Mr.Carter emphasised.*
We have a series of recommendations that we will be discussing with the President in the coming weeks to further enable our support with the ISF,so again the Secretary and I both believe there will be an increase to the US forces in Iraq in the coming weeks,but that decision hasn't been made,General Dunford said.What is it that we need to do to maintain the momentum of the campaign,and what is it that specifically we need to do to enable the operations in Mosul? the Joint Chiefs Chairman asked.
I think it's indisputable,whether we're talking about the amount of ground they control,their command and control-I think we've affected that in a key way;but there's a lot that remains to be done.While ISIL hasn't been seizing ground in recent months,they continue to conduct terrorist attacks and guerilla attacks.I think the momentum is in our favour.I think there's a lot of reasons for us to be optimistic about the next several months,but by no means would I say we're about to break the back of ISIL or that the fight is over,General Dunford cautioned.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

PIMCO's Cyclical Outlook:Aftershocks of Financial Dislocation

In its latest Cyclical Outlook,composed at an investment forum by its international cadre of financial experts,PIMCO portrayed a world that is still very much feeling,and being influenced by,the shock waves from the global financial crisis.
Notwithstanding the recent calmer tone in the markets,wrote PIMCO's Joachim Fels,Global Economic Advisor,and Andrew Balls,CIO Global Fixed Income,in a PIMCO Insight,the weaker global growth economic momentum at the end of 2015/start of 2016 and the significant,though temporary,tightening in global financial conditions in January/February meant that 2016 economic growth and inflation would likely come in at or below the ranges they had forecast in December for most major economies.*
Consequently,the investment forum lowered PIMCO's forecast for calendar year 2016 global real GDP growth by a quarter-point,to a range of 2-2.5%.Actual global GDP growth was 2.8 in 2014 and 2.6 last year;their forecast sees the slowdown continuing.*
Wherever one looks around the globe,PIMCO believes,nominal and real GDP growth and,therefore,interest rates are likely to stay well below historical norms,very much in line with their New Normal concept of a world economy transformed after the global financial crisis of 2008.The New Normal,Fels and Balls explain,is characterised by both weak potential output and a lack of aggregate demand,reflecting high debt levels and an excess of global desired saving over investment-the global savings glut.This continues to provide significant headwinds for growth,not only on their secular 3-5 year horizon;but also over the cyclical 6-12 month timeframe.It underpins their expectations for a low "neutral" central bank policy-along with The New Normal,they have described The New Neutral,referring more explicitly to central bank policies converging to lower neutral rates than in past economic cycles.*
PIMCO puts the probability of a US/global recession over the next 6-12 months as at most 20%.This is because,right now,none of the typical signs of imminent collapse are flashing:no over-consumption;no over-investment;no over-heating;and no monetary overkill.In short,they expect this expansion to last,lackluster though it be.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Metropolitans Emmanuel and Ilarion Address Theological Institute on Pan-Orthodox Council

This June's Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church was the topic of a seminar at Sts.Cyril and Methodius Theological Institute of Postgraduate Studies,Moscow on 11 March.Leading the discussion were His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France,Ecumenical Patriarchate;and His Eminence Metropolitan Ilarion of Volokolamsk,Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department of External Church Relatind rector of the Institute.Other participants included Metropolitan Arseniy of Istra,Patriarchal first vicar for Moscow;Bishop Feofilakt of Dmitrov,abbot of St.Andrew's Monastery,Moscow;Archimandrite Alexander Pihach,representative of the Orthodox Church in America to the Moscow Patriarchate;Mr.Andrei Shiskov,secretary of the Synodal Biblical and Theological Commission;Archimandrite Seraphim Shemyatovsky,representative of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia to the Moscow Patriarchate;and Mr.Vladimir Katasurov,head of the Chair of Philosophy at the Institute.*
The Council will show the unity of Orthodoxy to the world,Metropolitan Emmanuel said.One of the most important items on the agenda will be the situation in the Middle East and the plight of Christian communities in the region,now facing elimination.It is a humanitarian tragedy,a tragedy of the historical and civilization scale.This situation was the central item on the agenda of the recent meeting between Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Pope Francis in Havana,Cuba,Metropolitan Emmanuel pointed out.*
As to the Orthodox Church's social and demographic context today,Metropolitan Emmanuel noted that the number of people professing the Orthodox faith has increased dramatically in the past century.According to a survey by the College des Bernardins,the number of Orthodox Christians in the world has increased from 124,923,000 in the early 20th century to 274,447,000 in 2010.*
For his part,Metropolitan Ilarion said the preparation of the Council lasted 55 years.It is a very long period.One may ask why it took so long to prepare the Council.We can present many reasons for that,both intra-church and geopolitical.However,the fact that the date of the Council is approaching makes us think that Divine Providence guided our Church in such a way that the Pan-Orthodox Council was not convened earlier,but is to be held now.
This also obtained for the meeting of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Pope of Rome.The meeting was scheduled for 1997;its venue and date were fixed;yet the meeting did not take place.Later frequent attempts were made to resume the preparatory process,but at last the meeting between the Primates was held.We see the Divine Providence showing us the right time and venue for such historic meetings.*
Quite likely,we will not make some epoch-making decisions that will resound throughout the world.Yet,we will make our decisions to conform with the centuries-old teaching of the Holy Orthodox Church and the aspirations of our believers.These will be decisions disputed by no one,Metropolitan Ilarion told the seminar attendees.*
In his encyclical for Holy and Great Lent,His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey,Ecumenical Patriarchate,asked his flock to pray during this period for the Council.This is a historic event in the life of our Church and we should all pray for its success.Its success not only means reaching agreements on various ecclesiastical issues,but also showing that Christ gave His life for "the life of the world."Let us pray for the Holy and Great Council.Let us pray for His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew,whose mission in the service of Orthodox Unity is essential for the mystery of communion.By our common prayer we all become participants in this spiritual kairos as a way of glorifying our loving God.
May this Holy and Great Lent bring you many blessings,love,humility,patience and all of the virtues that we need for our salvation,and may we journey together to our Lord's glorious Resurrection with joy,praying for each other and those in need,Metropolitan Evangelos concluded.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Global Debt and the Risk to Capitalism

The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee issued its interest rate decision Wednesday afternoon,deciding to leave rates unchanged for now,and anticipating only two rate hikes this year,rather than four.They are not actively considering negative interest rates,unlike the European Central Bank,which has just implemented them.*
Markets and central banks globally are beginning to realise that there are negatives to negative interest rates,responded Bill Gross of Janus Capital Management,portfolio manager of the Janus Global Unconstrained Bond Fund and co-founder of PIMCO.It's a more dovish Fed.The Fed is still way above the market.Treasuries are fully priced at these levels.The Fed is connected to the stock market,but I don't think they're responsive to rates being at zero.It's a negative for the finance industry,for pensioners and for savers.They can't earn as much as they should.*
I think,to a certain extent,capitalism is at risk.It doesn't break down,but at the margin,it's hindered and it's hampered.The long term effect basically hampers investment by institutions like insurance companies.*
I think the Fed has an historical sense that Fed Funds should be at 3 or 4%.The real problem is,the tremendous amount of debt in the global markets.When debt gets up to a substantial level,things can de-lever.It's debt that has come to the forefront the past several years in the global economy,and that's what we need to worry about.*
An economy can't grow very fast if wages can't grow more than .6%.I think TIPS are a decent value,to the extent the Fed will reach their 2% inflation target.*
iShares TIPS Bond ETF (TIP),Janus Global Unconstrained Bond Fund;A (JUCAX)

Avionics Magazine :: Boeing Completes First Flight on Second KC-46A Aircraft to Test Avionics

Avionics Magazine :: Boeing Completes First Flight on Second KC-46A Aircraft to Test Avionics

Friday, March 11, 2016

Knife-Edge - Emerson, Lake & Palmer [2012 Remaster] - in memory of Keith Emerson,keyboards

Northrop Grumman:Come Fly with the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber

B-2 Stealth Bombers Deployed to the Tense Asia-Pacific

US Strategic Command deployed three US Air Force B-2 Spirit bombers from Whiteman Air Force Base,Missouri to an undisclosed location in the Asia-Pacific region on 8 March.While in the region,the Northrop Grumman warplanes,characterised by their low radar signature and carrying up to 44,000 pounds of conventional and thermonuclear ordnance,will conduct training with ally and partner air forces,and conduct a radio communications check with a US air operations centre.Their mission is to ensure bomber crews maintain a high state of readiness and crew proficiency,and to provide opportunities to integrate capabilities with key regional partners,US STRATCOM said.*
These flights ensure we remain ready to deter strategic attack,now and into the future,and are one of the many ways the US demonstrates its commitment to security and stability across the globe,said Admiral Cecil D. Haney,US Navy,Commander US Strategic Command.*
Strategic bomber deployments ensure our ability to project power at a time and place of our choosing and develop interoperability with our regional allies and partners,said General Lori J. Robinson,Commander Pacific Air Forces.Recent events demonstrate the continued need to provide consistent and credible air power throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.Our ability to demonstrate credible combat power while training and interoperating with our network of like-minded partner nations is vitally important,General Robinson added.*
At this time,the deployment of these major air power assets reinforces US policy in the Asia-Pacific and its response to China's militarisation of islands in the South China Sea;as well as North Korea's recent destabilising behaviour such as conducting its forth underground nuclear detonation and a long-range missile test in January and February 2016,respectively.*
With regard to China,General Robinson said we've watched the increased military capability on those islands,whether it's the fighters;whether it's the missiles or the 10,000-foot runways.We will continue to do as we've always done,and that is fly and sail in international airspace and waters,in accordance to international rules and norms,General Robinson told journalists in Canberra,Australia prior to her addressing the Royal Australian Air Force's biennial Air Power Conference next week.*
Northrop Grumman was also recently awarded the contract to develop and build the US Air Force's B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber.*
Northrop Grumman (NOC)

Raw: Arrival of Nancy Reagan's Casket - extended version

Nancy Reagan lies in repose - US military pallbearers

Archdiocese Co-sponsors Two Events at UN on ISIL and Water — Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Archdiocese Co-sponsors Two Events at UN — Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America