Sunday, October 9, 2016

October 9, 2016 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

Video: "UAE Navy Ship "HSV-2 Swift" sunk by Houthi-Rebels." 

You probably have already seen this video, which shows a UAE ship being hit with a missile; purportedly, a C-802 anti-ship missile manufactured by China. The official story now coming out of the Middle-East is that the ship was a civilian vessel and was only "damaged." The Tower reports in its article, entitled "Houthi Rocket Damages UAE Ship, Raising Fears of Iranian Control of Strategic Strait":
A rocket fired by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen struck and badly damaged a United Arab Emirates ship traveling through a strategic Red Sea waterway on Saturday, the Long War Journal reported. 
U.S. officials told Fox News on Monday that the rockets used in the attack had been supplied by Iran. 
* * *
The UAE foreign ministry stated that the ship in question was a civilian vessel, and that several crew members were injured, though none were killed. The UAE called the attack an act of terrorism. The UN Security Council also condemned the attack, as did the U.S. State Department, which asserted that the U.S. “remains committed to upholding freedom of navigation through the Bab al-Mandeb.” The U.S. Navy subsequently deployed three war ships to the strait: the USS Mason, the USS Nitze, and the USS Ponce. The Ponce can deploy special operations forces as necessary.
The use of the term "rocket" is also misleading as this was a guided missile; the term "rocket" generally carries the connotation that the projectile is simple and unguided. Wikipedia has this to say about its operation in flight:
When the missile is launched, the solid rocket propellant booster accelerates the speed of the missile to Mach 0.9 in a few seconds. After the booster burns out, it detaches from the missile body and the missile's turbojet engine starts. Controlled by the inertial autopilot system and radio altimeter, the missile flies at a cruising speed of Mach 0.9, and the cruise altitude is reduced to 10–20 metres (depending on the sea state) from the original 20–30 metres of the C-801/YJ-81. 
When entering the terminal phase of flight, the missile switches on its terminal guidance radar to search for the target. Once within a few kilometers of the target, the missile drops to 3–5 meters above sea level, about the same as a French Exocet missile. This altitude is slightly lower than the original 5–7 metres of the C-801/YJ-81. The missile may also maneuver during the terminal phase to make it a more difficult target for shipborne air defense systems. When approaching the target, the missile dives to hit the waterline of the ship to inflict maximum damage. 
The video above clearly shows the booster drop off and the missile "pop up" before it is lost to sight.

Now on to other stuff:

John Hernandez Felix, 26, was previously arrested as part of a failed murder plot in 2009. Felix and another suspect managed to shoot their target but he didn't die. Felix was charged with attempted murder, discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury and association with a criminal street gang.


      Court records don't provide details of the shooting, but they do show that Felix pleaded down to assault with a firearm and admitted his gang connection. He was given a two year prison sentence for the assault and an additional two years for his gang ties. His prison term  would have expired in 2013.
      I've looked at about a half-dozen other stories about Felix's capture and none mention his middle name; and none of the stories, including the one cited above, have provided a photograph of him.
      • But I thought the science was settled: "Experts said Arctic sea ice would melt entirely by September 2016 - they were wrong"--The Telegraph. Not only were the climatologists wrong about the sea ice being completely melted, the article also observes that "latest satellite images showed there is far more [ice] now than in 2012." We are going into a cooling phase that is going to see a mini-Ice Age over much of North America and Eurasia. 
        Lawmakers in the Bundesrat, the upper house of Germany's parliament, agreed to a resolution that would ban production of all new internal combustion engines — which means all new gas- and diesel-powered cars — beginning in 2030, Der Spiegel reported Saturday. Instead, "only zero-emission passenger vehicles will be approved," the ban says.


            On its own, the resolution has no legal authority, because such a ban would have to be enacted by the European Union, not at the national level. However, notes Forbes, "German regulations traditionally have shaped EU" regulations, so the ban could be made enforceable if the predictable objections of European automakers (and the many auto factory workers who would lose their jobs) are overcome.


                Supporters of the engine ban say it is necessary to slow the effects of climate change. "If the Paris agreement to curb climate-warming emissions is to be taken seriously, no new combustion engine cars should be allowed on roads after 2030," said Oliver Krischer, a German Greens party lawmaker, referencing the recently ratified Paris climate agreement, which is concerned with greenhouse gas emissions like those produced by gas-powered cars. 
                  State-run pension systems across the country were underfunded by $1.2 trillion last year and are expected to be in even worse shape in the years ahead, according to a report released Thursday from a top credit rating agency.


                      Moody's Investors Service said it expects the gap to hit $1.7 trillion with the next round of state audits, largely because investment returns have been far below expectations for the funds.


                          The report is among the first to aggregate state government pension liabilities under new accounting rules that are intended to provide a more accurate picture of the funds' fiscal health.


                              Moody's conclusions are similar to other recent reports from experts in the field and Standard & Poor's, another rating agency: The states with the largest gaps will have to plow far more money into their pension systems each year just to keep the problem from getting worse.


                                  Lower-than-expected investment returns, growing numbers of retirees and longer life spans are expected to widen the liabilities in the years to come. Closing the gap generally means raising taxes or diverting money from other areas of a state budget, solutions that are not politically popular.
                                  “It’s not because I don’t like paying taxes,” said Gardner, who attended both meetings. “I have voted for every park, every library, all the school improvements, for light rail, for anything that will make this city better. But now I can’t afford to live here anymore. I’ll protest my appraisal notice, but that’s not enough. Someone needs to step in and address the big picture.”
                                  (Underline added). Like the archetypal "rabbit," she didn't think of the consequences of her actions, trusting, as the Daily Pundit points out, that all these feel good projects would be paid for by someone else.
                                    The combination of ISIS’s diminishing power in Iraq and the deployment of the Iraqi militias to Syria has caused a number of regional diplomats to “worry that Iraq’s Shiite militias are morphing into a larger, externally focused force set on settling Shiite-Sunni scores across the region,” the Journal added.


                                        The growing prominence of Shiite militias has stoked fears among Sunni powers that Iran is creating a “Shiite Crescent” in order to bolster its influence across the Middle East. Iran’s recent formation of a Shiite “Liberation Army” has also raised concerns among observers that Tehran “is asserting itself as a regional or even an imperialistic power,” Tallha Abdulrazaq, a researcher at the University of Exeter, observed in August.


                                            Reuters reported in August that Washington failed to rein in the Popular Mobilization Forces, as the Iraqi Shiite militias are known, even as they “detained, tortured and abused” hundreds of Sunni civilians. In Syria, forces backed by Iran have ethnically cleansed several Sunni neighborhoods in and around Damascus.
                                            (Underline added). 
                                            • Fry the Brain: "Rebel groups in Iraq, Syria using remote-controlled guns"--Fox News. This article was originally published on September 2. It is interesting for a couple reasons. First, from a historical perspective, it is interesting because the remote controlled weapon in the photograph accompanying the article is an STG-44. Second, by moving to weapons that can be aimed and fired using a computer, the rebels show an increasing sophistication in their urban sniping. 
                                            • Multiculturalism in Germany: 
                                            The woman [who lived near the suspects apartment], clutching several chestnuts in her hand, shook her head: "It's hard not to hate these people," she said, launching into a xenophobic tirade against refugees. "Who knows what else they're up to?” she asked darkly. 

                                            She was referring to the events on Saturday, when police stormed the flat following a tip-off from security services that the 22-year-old Syrian was preparing a bomb attack.
                                            And another resident:
                                            He, like many residents DW interviewed, expressed virulently anti-refugee sentiments. "That's what happens when you let those people in," one elderly man, who refused to give his name, grumbled, voicing a view that many here seem to share. Some, though, admit that the refugees who have been housed in the estate are polite. But contact, they agree, is minimal.
                                            Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced at the Tory party conference that a consultation would be launched on plans aimed at boosting the employment of UK citizens and reducing immigration in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union.

                                            Among the measures was a plan to compel companies to reveal how many foreign workers they were employing, but this provoked an angry backlash from critics, including the British Chambers of Commerce and Ms Rudd's own brother.  

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