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July 25, 2016 / 19 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘development’

Should the US Remilitarize Military Procurement?

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

The US military is facing potentially catastrophic funding cuts due to last year’s so-called “sequestration” deal between the President and the Republicans in Congress. If Congress and the President fail to agree on future tax and spending policy, on January 1, 2013 automatic cuts will automatically begin, which will result in an almost $50 billion dollar cut from the 2013 defense budget. It is also estimated that over the course of the next ten years the act will, in theory, cut as much as $492 billion from the defense budget.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has described these cuts as “catastrophic.” Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (D Hawaii) has agreed with Panetta, calling them “devastating and disastrous.”

Pressure has never been greater to ensure that the defense procurement system works at maximum efficiency. Ideally, this means that the procurement system should provide the armed services with high quality, reliable and affordable weapons and equipment, on schedule and without unplanned cost increases.

Unfortunately, at present there is little sign that either the Obama administration or Congress are ready to make the dramatic, comprehensive reforms that are needed for America’s complex and confusing Federal Acquisition Regulations which govern the procurement system. Today’s economic problems, however, are serious enough so that they might open the way for reforms that would make a significant difference to the way the system works.

Ever since the early days of the Reagan build-up in the early 1980’s, there has been a lively and, at times, nasty debate over military procurement reform. The bureaucratic system, which the US Department of Defense uses to design, develop and produce the seemingly infinite number of military weapons and equipment required, is widely recognized as broken. Almost all new weapons and new equipment are delivered to our troops late, and these items almost always seem to end up costing far more than originally planned. Often, a new weapon which had been in development for years, is cancelled because the leadership of the Defense Department decides that it has grown too expensive, as shown below. The cancellation then results in wasted billions that have already been spent .

In the 1950’s, the Pentagon may have had some significant problems, but the procurement system itself was not one of them. As one former Air Force General said, “Procurement decisions were made by the highest ranking officer technically qualified to make the decision.”

In the early 1960’s, under then Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, a new management system was put into place. McNamara removed authority for major procurement decisions from the Army, Air Force and Navy and gave it to senior political appointees in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). Essentially, the decision-making power was given to a group of civilian political appointees and analysts who owed their positions to McNamara and no one else. These civilians were known as the “Whiz Kids.” Their ideas were neatly summed up by Charles Hitch, McNamara’s Comptroller of the Defense Department when he said, “We regard all military problems … as economic problems in the efficient allocation and use of resources.”

By reducing the role of the men and women in the military to the mere fulfilling of a set of economic, statistical requirements, Secretary of Defense McNamara not only eliminated the role of traditional warrior virtues in the conduct of US military operations, he also removed officers with real-world experience from the procurement process. Many of the failures experienced by the US military since the McNamara era have been due to the excessive use of business management principles and techniques instead of reliance on strategy and doctrine based on military experience.

The McNamara system has undergone several minor reforms since the early 1960’s, notably the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986. This legislation strengthened the role of the nation’s senior military officer, namely, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. It made him the principal military advisor to the President and thus no longer just the “first among equals.” Regrettably, the Goldwater-Nichols Act Act failed to give the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs solid authority over the procurement process. Even worse, as former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman put it, “The intention of the legislation was to get uniformed people completely out of procurement.”

Taylor Dinerman

Two Versions of American History

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

http://fresnozionism.org/2012/07/two-versions-of-american-history/

Here are two versions of American history:

One is that the nation came into being based on the principles of the Enlightenment, in which liberty was a supreme value. Rights like freedom of speech and religion were enshrined in its Bill of Rights. About 70 years after its founding, it was torn by a remarkably bloody war in which the idea that human slavery was acceptable was soundly defeated, and that abominable institution was ended. Thanks to its commitment to free enterprise, it expanded to both sides of the continent, providing unprecedented opportunities for prosperity and development. Great universities were established, and culture and science thrived.

During WWII, the US turned its mighty industrial power toward defeating the murderous regimes of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. 417,000 Americans died in that war. Afterwards, the US took the lead in establishing international institutions (like the UN) designed to prevent war and spread freedom and prosperity throughout the world.

After the war, the US opposed the attempts of the Soviet Union to export its totalitarian communism. Ultimately, due to a great extent to US efforts, the USSR collapsed and numerous European countries that had become satellites obtained their freedom.

The Civil Rights movement brought about the end of segregation in the south, as well as other forms of institutionalized racism against African-Americans. Laws were passed guaranteeing voting rights, fair housing, forbidding discrimination in employment, etc. on the basis of race, sex, disability, etc.

The invention of the microprocessor and the development of the computer and communications industry, arguably producing an economic revolution as important as that of the steam engine, began in the US, and innovation continues here.

Another view is that the US was built, from the beginning, on exploitation. Its early economic development was based on slave labor, and since the beginning is has ripped through the natural resources of the continent in the most greedy way possible. Anything that stood in the way of expansion — like indigenous native Americans, who were slaughtered wholesale — was destroyed.

Even after the end of slavery, African Americans were exploited for their labor while being treated abominably. Other industrial workers were paid just enough to keep them alive, and attempts at unionization were met by bullets.

At the beginning of WWII, Japanese citizens were forced into internment camps. The US was the first nation to use atomic weapons, killing hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians. After the war, the US opposed indigenous liberation movements throughout the world, using military force to defend the colonialist world order in places like Vietnam.

The US continues to exploit and oppress third-world peoples, especially where there are important resources, like oil. Racism is inseparable from our culture.

In recent years, economic inequality has soared, and inflation-adjusted middle-class income has dropped since the 1960′s while a small group of super-rich have become astronomically wealthy. Despite its overall wealth, the US has a worse health care system than most other developed nations. Powerful interests prevent actions from being taken to reduce the emission of pollutants, greenhouse gases, etc., which foul the entire planet.

Neither of these stories is 100% correct and complete (but they are not ‘equally good’, either).

No nation is perfect, and they all have skeletons in their closets (just ask the Belgians about the Congo — and we won’t even bring up the British, upon whose exploitative empire the sun never set). But the US does have a commitment to such things as individual rights (as expressed in the Bill of Rights), equality of opportunity, social mobility, democracy, rule of law, etc. Many other nations — perhaps most of them — don’t even pay lip service to these ideals, much less exemplify them.

Where do you start? Do you accept the idea that the US is based on fundamentally sound principles and is an overall force for good in the world? That our job is to fix the problems, but continue on the same general path laid down by the Founding Fathers?

Or do you start with the second story — I’ll call it the ‘anti-American’ one — and conclude that our country is evil, responsible for most of the misery in the world, and must be destroyed or at least completely turned upside down to save it?

Vic Rosenthal

Israeli Scientists Find Way to Delay Cell Death

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Israeli Researchers have discovered a protein that is central to delaying cell death, which “could lead to new approaches to treating cancer.”

The findings, led by Hebrew University graduate student Chen Hener-Katz and involving a collaboration between Prof. Assaf Friedler of the Hebrew University and Prof. Atan Gross of the Weizmann Institute, were published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry in an article titled ”Molecular Basis of the Interaction between Proapoptotic Truncated BID (tBID) Protein and Mitochondrial Carrier Homologue 2 (MTCH2) Protein.”

The discovery by Prof. Gross of the MTCH2 protein as well as its relationship to tBID, allowed the research team to develop a technique that mimics apoptosis.

Programmed cell death, or Apoptosis, is a critical defense mechanism against the development of abnormal cells like cancer, according to HealthCanal.com. “Cancer cells usually avoid this process due to mutations in the genes that encode the relevant proteins,” it continues. “The result is that the cancer cells survive and take over while healthy cells die.”

”These protein segments could be the basis of future anti-cancer therapies in cases where the mechanism of natural cell death is not working properly,” said Prof. Friedler, head of the school of chemistry at the Hebrew University. ”We have just begun to uncover the hidden potential in the interaction between these proteins. This is an important potential target for the development of anticancer drugs that will stimulate apoptosis by interfering with its regulation.”

The potential ramifications of this discovery was described in the Weizmann Institute’s 2010 Update on Cancer Research: “Scientists can use this newly gained knowledge to devise novel therapeutic methods. If clinicians could regulate the production and activity of MTCH2, they would be able, for instance, to ‘turn on’ mitochondria apoptosis in cancerous cells and turn it ‘off’ in the brain cells of patients with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.”

Jewish Press Staff

Israeli Vows to ‘Bike for the Fight’ Against Cancer

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

A new initiative – Bike for the Fight – will raise money for the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF), a North American organization funding grants to top Israeli cancer researchers and scientific institutions, by biking for three months across the United States, according to a report by NoCamels.

Started by Tom Peled, a 24 year student at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya who lost his father to cancer in 2011 after an 8 year battle,  the venture will see Peled bike from Los Angeles and through Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and ending in New York City.  The mission will begin on August 1.

The recipients of ICRF funds are used to fund research into the development of life-saving early diagnostic devices and new drugs for such cancers as leukemia, bone marrow cancer, breast and ovarian cancer, and others.

Peled has attracted the support of Hillel, Maccabiah 2012, and Microsoft Israel, which is creating a special app for the project, as well as President Shimon Peres and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

Biking for the Fight has already raised NIS 41,000 by selling campaign bracelets, and signed up hundreds of people for organ donation.

Malkah Fleisher

Jews, Gays, Rights Activists Protest Ahmadinejad in Rio

Monday, June 18th, 2012

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s welcome on the sunny Ipanema beach in Rio was less than warm from an eclectic group of Jews, human rights activists, and homosexuals, who arrived Sunday to protest the Iranian president’s attendance at a UN summit on sustainable development.

The protest was organized by a group called the Commission Against Religious Intolerance.

“We want the world to know that religious hatred harms the environment and Ahmadinejad represents hatred. Sustainable development encompasses human rights,” Ivanir dos Santos representative of the commission told the AFP.

“Citizens in Rio have good reason to be appalled by this visit.  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad embodies the ideology of intimidation and violence fomented by Iran’s militant Islamic Republic,” Alex Traiman, director of the award-winning documentary exposing the Iranian regime’s radical ideology, Iranium, told the Jewish Press.  “For decades, Iran has expanded its influence in South America, through large oil contracts and joint terror operations.  Iranians carried out mass-scale bombings in Argentina in the 90’s while Hizbullah, an Iranian terror proxy, has cells all over the continent.”

Unlike previous demonstrations organized by the commission, no Muslims took part in Sunday’s rally.

“Muslims do not take part in demonstrations against a fellow Muslim, even if they disagree with him,” commission representative dos Santos told the AFP.

Demonstrators waved placards in support of Iranian nationals, but also carried banners stating “Rio does not welcome Mahmoud Ahmadinejad” and chanted “Ahmadinejad out of Brazil” to the beat of drums.

Michel Gherman, head of the Hillel of Rio, told AFP that Ahmadinejad’s visit “is an opportunity to criticize his hateful speech denying the Holocaust as well as the persecution of homosexuals and Bahais”.

The UN summit will include discussions on eradicating poverty and protecting the environment.

Malkah Fleisher

Israel Ranked 19th Most Competitive Economy in the World

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Israel ranked among the top twenty most competitive economies in the world for the third straight year, according to the International Institute of Management Development’s (IMD) 2012 World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY).

Describing the WCY as “the world’s most renowned and comprehensive annual report on the competitiveness of nations,” IMD analyzed the world’s 59 leading economies on the basis of 329 criteria.

Israel ranked 19th, a drop of two spots, after two straight years as the 17th most competitive economy. Still, it retained its position as the world’s top investor in research and development (as a percentage of GDP) for the third year in a row, and ranked 2nd for total public expenditure on education. On the downside, it dropped five places in level of government efficacy to 21st, ranked 49th in cost of living, and 54th in workforce participation.

Nevertheless, when analyzed in the long-view, Israel’s economy has become increasingly competitive – only nine years ago it was ranked 29th.

The IMD based its ranking of Israel on data provided by the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce.

The five most competitive of the 59 economies are, in descending order: Hong Kong, the United States, Switzerland, Singapore, and Sweden. Israel ranked one spot behind the United Kingdom, and ahead of economic powerhouses China (23rd), Japan (27th), and France (29th).

Discussing the rankings, IMD’s World Competitiveness Center director Professor Stephane Garelli said that “US competitiveness has a deep impact on the rest of the world because it is uniquely interacting with every economy, advanced or emerging. No other nation can exercise such a strong “pull effect” on the world. Europe is burdened with austerity and fragmented political leadership and is hardly a credible substitute, while a South-South bloc of emerging markets is still a work in progress. In the end, if the US competes, the world succeeds!”

Jewish Press Staff

American Hostage Pleads with Obama To Free Al-Qaeda, Taliban Prisoners

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Warren Weinstein, an American humanitarian aid worker kidnapped by al-Qaeda  begged US President Barack Obama to free all al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners in US detention camps, and end airstrikes against forces in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia in exchange for his freedom.

Weinstein, 71 of Rockville, Maryland, was kidnapped August 13, 2011, while in Lahore, Pakistan as director of J.E. Austin Associates, an organization “assisting businesses, governments, non-profit organizations, educational and financial institutions, and other development organizations around the world to improve productivity, to enhance competitiveness, to strengthen management and strategy implementation, and to facilitate economic development.”  He had been in country for 5 years when he was taken.

“My life is in your hands, Mr. President. If you accept the demands, I live; if you don’t accept the demands, then I die,” Weinstein was quoted as saying in a video on Sunday by SITE, an organization which tracks al-Qaeda.

Weinstein wore a clean shalwar kameez — the country’s traditional dress — and took bites of food from two large plates of food placed before hime.

NBC news reported that Weinstein is in ill health, with a heart condition.

Malkah Fleisher

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/american-hostage-pleads-with-obama-to-free-al-qaeda-taliban-prisoners/2012/05/07/

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