Pentagon budget 2017: Legislation would seek F-22 production restart

A congressional subcommittee wants the USAF to study the possibility of reopening the F-22 production line. Source: USAF

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A US House of Representatives panel wants the US Air Force (USAF) to look into restarting production of the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor combat aircraft, according to a draft version of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act released on 19 April.

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Socialist implosion

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It now seems inevitable that Venezuela, for decades touted as a “socialist paradise”, will disintegrate by the end of the year.

It’s the ultimate case of “Dutch disease”, a country now rotten from depending far too much on the export of a primary product and, as a result, facing a currency so bloated it can’t maintain productivity and competitiveness.

Now, the inevitable violence and chaos is starting to spill over. On Sunday, the Financial Times cited reports of the morgue in the capital city of Caracas overwhelmed with the stench of dead bodies piling up.

There’s been no official homicide data from Venezuela since 2006, but El Nacional is claiming “5186” murders in 2016 to date. One local think tank puts the rate at 92 killings per 100,000 citizens – about 22,000 Australians a year in local terms, or 84 murders every weekend in Sydney.

It’s almost fives times the rate in the year before Hugo Chavez came to power.

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The Great Debate: When will Russia break?

Policemen detain a woman during a protest against the sentencing of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to five years in jail, in central Moscow, July 18, 2013. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor

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When will Russia break? A rock bottom oil price, Western sanctions, inflation, a demographic crisis… when is the Second Russian Revolution? Next year, on the centenary of the first? 1917-2017?

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The 2016 Summer Immigration Crisis Could Reignite the Balkan Powder Keg

Two notable developments occurred Nov. 11 2015 related to Europe’s migrant crisis, notable not so much for what they directly achieved but for their potential effects. Both events concerned the migration route that passes across the eastern Mediterranean and up through the Balkans, which has been largely responsible for the massive uptick in immigrant numbers in 2015. The first was a statement from the Czech Republic’s deputy prime minister, Andrej Babis, who said that since Greece has not been adequately controlling its borders it should be ejected from the Schengen zone, which allows free movement of people in Europe. The second was the news that Slovenia has begun to erect a fence on its border with Croatia.

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Babis’ comments are important: Greece’s exclusion from the Schengen area would deal a blow both to the European Union itself and to Greece’s place within it. The links among its members have already been strained by the immigrant crisis, with some countries claiming emergency conditions and erecting fences with their non-Schengen neighbors, while others have suspended border crossings within the borderless zone, temporarily nullifying its effects. If a country were to be booted out of the borderless area, it would be a further blow to the structural integrity of the entire initiative. For Greece, meanwhile, whose continued existence in the European Union has been in doubt for much of the year primarily for financial reasons, would see another rope that ties it to the union severed, creating even more distance between Greeks and their European counterparts and thus facilitating an eventual Grexit.

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The EU Conspiracy to keep the UK in the EU and Prevent ‘Brexit’

The EU is under enormous pressure trying to ‘manage’ the massive ‘refugee’ crisis, at the same time as the ongoing threat of a Greek debt default that may initiate a general unwinding of the Common European Currency, and now the mounting pressure of Brexit threatens the future of the EU itself.

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Into this cauldron of compounding problems, the EU seeks to prevent Britain’s referendum on leaving or remaining part of the EU, from totally destabilising the European experiment. The approaching threat to China’s external FOTEX reserves, and the massive Chinese external debt, has the potential to bring down the global economy in ways far more dangerous than was faced with the 2008 recession. This is yet a further trigger that is facing a general breakdown in Europe as Britain considers its membership options.

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