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America fears China’s geo-political power more than China’s economic might

Economically, the US had similar issues with Japan in the 1980s as it does with China today, but hardly anyone in the US spoke of ‘war’ with Japan then. This is due to the difference in Japan’s geo-political position vis-a-vis that of China.

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The Bannonite wing of the new American right is angry about China. The anger stems primarily from the fact that China’s manufacturing has outpaced that of the US and economies similar to that of the US, which in turn has arguably been a cause of US industrial decline.

Steve Bannon recently gave a speech in the Chinese island of Hong Kong where he stated that while the US is at “economic war” with China, but that nevertheless he and Donald Trump admire China and President Xi Jinping in particular.

In this sense, Bannon has admitted the hypothesis I recently offered that many in the US are jealous of Chinese economic strength and wish that the US might be able to replicate a similar success story among its declining industrial base which still has a great deal of latent potential.

READ MORE: Steve Bannon’s China Syndrome reveals America’s jealousy of a China that is ‘great again’

In this sense, while Bannon’s talk of ‘war’ is worrying, his honestly is nevertheless, refreshing. Furthermore his genuine affection for the American working class is admirable and honourable, even if attacking China is not necessarily the best way to express such feelings.

Bannon’s remarks exist at a time when the neo-con faction of the so-called US right (a deceptive term if there even was one, but one which still is pervasive), don’t particularly care about the US industrial working class. However, they do care about US military hegemony and consequently, they are keen on disrupting China’s growing super-power status. Because China’s ascent to the position of global leadership, along with a renewed Russia and a still strong, though declining US, is largely fuelled by China’s economic engine, the neo-cons likewise seek to do whatever they can to disrupt China’s economic progress.

China’s One Belt–One Road is a testament to the fact that China seeks to use economic cooperation in order to diversify its national interests and increase its economic wealth and consequently, its influence. This contrasts with the Russian model of effective diplomacy based geo-political leadership and the US model of neo-imperialist proxy wars/hybrid wars.

In this sense, there are important economic similarities, but key geo-strategic differences between America’s current position via-a-vis China and America’s position vis-a-vis Japan in the 1980s and 1990s.

Made in Japan

In the 1960s and early 1970s, the moniker “Made in Japan” stood for cheap goods that were generally of lesser quality via-a-vis their western counterparts.

By the end of the 1970s, “Made in Japan” meant goods, particularly in respect of electronics and motor vehicles that were often superior to their US counterparts, all while still being more affordable and more reliable.

By the late 1980s, many Americans were complaining of Japan “dumping” their goods at US ports. At this time, Japanese money flowed into American cities and a combination of economic uncertainty mixed with what can only be described as latent anti-Japanese sentiments dating back to Pearl Harbor and the US experience in the Second World War in the Pacific, led to an anti-Japanese backlash that is hardly ever discussed today.

An article from the New York Times originally published on 14 August 1987, titled “U.S. Takes New Tack On Japanese Dumping”, states the following,

“In an action that could speed up price increases on products imported from Japan, the Commerce Department has found that two Japanese companies have been selling roller bearings at illegally low prices.

The case was brought because many Japanese companies have put off raising prices to compensate for the much higher value of the yen against the dollar. Instead, they preferred to absorb costs resulting from a strong yen and even sell at a loss, rather than lose market share.

This is the first time Washington has moved in a significant way to penalize Japan for following this course. Higher Duties Possible

The yen has risen against the dollar by more than 60 percent since February 1985, which should mean that Japanese products would cost much more in the United States than before.

But some bearing prices failed to rise at all during the investigation period, between March 1 and Aug. 31 of last year.

Should the ruling be affirmed, it would result in higher customs duties on the imported bearings, which have a variety of industrial uses, especially in transportation equipment.

But many analysts said the case could set a precedent for other industries in which the dollar’s decline has failed to improve their ability to compete against the Japanese.

The decision comes as the trading relationship between the United States and Japan has been strained by the Toshiba Machine Company’s sale of sensitive military goods to the Soviet Union and a disagreement between Washington and Tokyo, now partially settled, over the dumping of computer chips. Looking for ‘Fair Value’

Koichi Haraguchi, information counselor at the Japanese Embassy, said it was ”not appropriate” for his Government to comment because this was an ”internal action taken in accordance with U.S. dumping law.”

The duties are intended to raise the Japanese selling prices to what the Commerce Department has determined to be ”fair value.” This is computed on the basis of the exporters’ home market price, his selling price in other markets outside the United States, his cost of production and other factors including a margin of profit.

The department singled out two Japanese companies for sales of tapered roller bearings. It said that the Koyo Seiko Company was selling bearings at 70.44 percent below the computed fair value and that the NTN Toyo Bearing Company was selling bearings for 47.05 percent less”.

In summary, in the 1980s and into the 1990s, many in the US were upset with Japan for selling  goods to the US, which in spite of the strength of the Yen versus the Dollar, were still sold cheaply to US consumers due to Japan implementing a strategy based on volume rather than an instant Dollar for Dollar profit.

Déjà vu +

Today, an equal and opposite charge is levelled against China. China is accused of dumping high quality and/or much sought after goods on US soil for prices that generally are better than that of the domestic competition. Interestingly, where Japan was lambasted by the US for a strong Yen, China is inversely lambasted for having an allegedly weak Yuan.

This general attitude towards Chinese monetary policy is succinctly expressed in a piece from the Global Finance School economic news website:

“China periodically announces that it will float the value of the Yuan, which has traditionally been pegged to the U.S. Dollar. The Chinese central government has so far not made any serious changes. Many countries have legitimate reasons for a fixed exchange rate, but a large, economically powerful country like China should have the strength to maintain a stable currency in the open market without manipulation. Economists suggest the Yuan is undervalued by 15% to 40%, though it is hard to accurately conclude. The People’s Bank of China currently holds $3.2 trillion of foreign-exchange reserves.

How does China keep the Yuan weak? By buying US currency and treasury notes on the open market, China keeps demand for the US dollar high. They can afford to buy and hold so much US currency due to their huge trade surplus with America, and they buy US currency roughly equal to this surplus. To keep the influx of dollars from increasing the Chinese money supply, China “sterilizes” the dollar purchases by selling bonds to Chinese investors like commercial banks. By boosting the dollar, still one of the most powerful worldwide currencies, the Yuan looks weak in relation. For the last few years China has maintained the value of their currency at just under 7 Chinese Yuan to $1. Today $1 equals 6.54 Yuan. Something close to 5 Yuan to the dollar might be a better valuation based on other market factors.

The cheap Yuan gives China an unfair advantage in the export market, encouraging the United States’ growing trade deficit with China and keeping goods in markets like India from competing locally.

Holding so much US currency gives China a lot of power over the dollar, and thus the US economy. What if China’s central bank decided to sell a large amount of US dollars and treasury notes all at once? The dollar could drop, leaving the US economy gasping for breath.

Unnaturally cheap goods and services from China hurt growing economies like India. India has a trade deficit of $19.2 billion with China. India has the potential to manufacture and sell lower priced goods, if the Rupee could compete with the Yuan.

By making other currencies relatively expensive, the booming Chinese population is discouraged from importing goods from other countries, including India, the United States, and Europe, because the cost is artificially inflated. This restricts a balance in trade and increases other countries trade deficits with China”.

This analysis fails to take into account the fact that in almost all sectors, China’s industrial infrastructure is vastly more advanced than that of India, in spite of India’s development in such areas. Simultaneous to this, the article does not take into account the fact that US industry is in need of large scale modernisation and that modern EU industry is among the most regulated in world history. These are not value judgements on any of these economies or cultures, but they are the objective realities.

However, the article does display the angry attitude that many have towards China maintaining an monetary policy that has merely taken advantage of America’s large national debt combined with the fact that the US refuses to peg the Dollar against a metallic standard as many US monetary conservatives like Ron Paul have suggested for decades.

In short, whether competing against a vibrant 1980s style Japanese economy that could outproduce the US in spite of a high valued Yen or in competing with a China capable of a titanic industrial output irrespective of the valuation of the Yuan versus the Dollar, many of the same complaints have been made.

The geo-political X-factor 

Few Americans in the 1980s or 1990s spoke of “war” with Japan, whether economic or otherwise. The reason for this is due to the fact that Japan is a geo-political ally of the United States and has been so consistently since 1945.

If America cracked down on Japanese imports too severely, it would have made for an awkward geo-political situation that the US had invested greatly in on many fronts.

By contrast, China’s expansion while fuelled by its economic might, has wide ranging geo-political implications. If One Belt–One Road and cooperative monetary initiatives from the BRICS as well as other groups can help create a trading, financial and monetary system wherein the US Dollar, US dominated World Bank, US ally dominated IMF and US military alliances that are often prerequisite for doing deals with the US can be bypassed; the US will have increasingly little to offer the wider developing world and frankly the wider global east as a whole.

READ MORE: BRICS in talks to create own cryptocurrency in another blow to US Dollar

This is what America fears most. Far from propping up the Dollar, China with its gold reserves, Dollar reserves and the impetus to begin trading with Asian and Eurasian partners in local currencies, could do more damage to US hegemony than the dumping of anyone’s goods at US ports could ever hope to achieve.

READ MORE: 2017 BRICS Declaration: Emphasis on a results based, ideology free model of global economic cooperation and development

In this sense, America’s implicit fear is that Chinese initiatives could transform into a proverbial all-purpose lubricant which oils the machine of global trade, global finance and global monetary exchange. In so doing, China could undermine America’s role as the de-facto international financial and monetary hub. So goes the Federal Reserve, so goes America. This is especially the case since the US did so little to protect its manufacturing  base from internal crises  in the late 20th century. This has left America widely exposed to pressures from the international monetary and financial markets without the safety net of a strong domestic base for industrial production.

Japan’s success in the 1980s and China’s success today, demonstrate that if one has a modern, skilled and dynamic industrial base, one can whether the storms of both ends of the monetary valuation spectrum and still manage to have a powerful working economy that produces much sought after goods on world markets as well as domestically.

One of China’s biggest markets is its still partly untapped domestic market. This is something that is often forgotten in western discussions about China, as is the fact that increased Chinese labour costs mean that the idea of ‘cheap Chinese labour’ is no longer a reality. Mexico for example now has cheaper labour costs than does China. This is why many “American” cars are no manufactured in Mexico.

The idea that the Chinese economy only succeeds because of cheap labour and an ‘undervalued’ Yuan is a fallacy that only harms the ostensibly pro-western causes of those making the allegations.

The classic American export

In reality, the two most dynamic heavy industries in the US at the moment are the defence industry and the energy sector. This ironically is how many critics of Russia in the US, including John McCain have used to lambaste Russia, a country whose economy is actually diversifying far more than it is given credit for.

In this sense, exporting war is important for the United States and from different perspectives, both the neo-cons/neo-libs and Bannonites realise this. If America makes the machines of war and little else, war itself becomes an export commodity. In this sense, the US has also lost the moral argument to One Belt–One Road, a program which implicitly requires peace and stability along its trading routes.

A solution

There is a way to peacefully make America great again, so to speak. America could inject the same amounts of capital into its consumer industrial base as it does in respect of the defence industry. If the US did this, it could in surprisingly short order (if managed properly) become a respected and respectable competitor to the dynamic economies of Asia and Eurasia, in spite of the value of the Dollar, as Japan proved in respect of the Yen.

Here though, the outsourcing acolytes among the neo-cons/neo-libs would kick up a fuss and thus far the Bannonites haven’t produced a concrete manifesto for such plans. Such plans would however be vastly more productive than the neo-con hybrid wars or Bannonite economic wars against China could ever hope to be.

The world’s geo-political realities have become America’s foreign policy problems, all because the US is too busy pointing fingers at successful economies rather than investing in its own. The fault here lies with the American political culture.

Protectionist Ross Perot once talked of a “giant sucking sound” that would take jobs and economic vitality away from America if NAFTA was signed. NAFTA was signed and while the deal is deeply flawed, the biggest giant sucking sound of all is the one coming from the Washington D.C. swamp which no one America seems capable of draining.

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Voltaire
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Voltaire

While China builds on a global scale…

The United States kills, maims and destroys on a global scale…

Simon
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Simon

Exactly. And all this angst in the USA about China is far too late.
I realised that years ago when I first visited China and saw their shining cities of the future, their awesome infrastructure.
In comparison the US looks as if it is still stuck in the 70s.
China is already the premier economy on earth.

KateAJones
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KateAJones

Boost your earnings on Google & make $99/hour by working from a home computer.
on friday I bought a gorgeous Chrysler when I got my check for $9277 this munth. it’s actualy the most comfortable job Ive ever had . I actually started seven months/ago and almost straight away got over $99, per/hr . check
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André De Koning
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André De Koning

Succinctly put and an interesting article!

louis robert
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louis robert

The “peaceful” solution proposed, like all genuinely peaceful solutions the Empire could come up with, entails the abandonment of Empire. That will not happen. The Empire will simply continue on seeking world hegemony through full spectrum dominance, blaming all the while others like e.g. China and Russia for its own mistakes and failures, more and more often threatening the world with nuclear war in the demented hope of maintaining itself as number one in an American world. That imperial strategy is doomed. China has already defeated the Empire at its own game. In tomorrow’s world the game will be China’s… Read more »

JNDillard
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JNDillard

The swamp won’t and can’t be drained until there is a Constitutional convention. The basic rules of the game have to be changed fundamentally.

stevek9
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stevek9

This is largely due to the de-facto status of the dollar as the worlds ‘reserve’ currency. Countries around the World, including China want to hold dollars, which requires a trade surplus. They have to manipulate the value of their currency to maintain that. In addition, competing in the most open market in the World (the US) helps with industrial development, as it is extremely competitive. China no longer needs to run these big surpluses, and in fact their people would live much better if they did not. Real goods improve standards of living, not numbers in computers at the US… Read more »

Shahna
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“In so doing, China could undermine America’s role as the de-facto
international financial and monetary hub. So goes the Federal Reserve,
so goes America.”
———————–
They’re doing it. It’s happening. Good.
So phuck off and goodbye.

hvaiallverden
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hvaiallverden

Amen to it all.

PS: louis r, is equally good.
cheers

peace

RoHa
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RoHa

Even in the early 1960s, those of us who were keen on photography (as I was when I was a boy) knew that “Made in Japan” on photographic equipment meant high quality, good design, reasonable price, and incomprehensible instruction manuals.

Daisy Adler
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Daisy Adler

“China’s manufacturing has outpaced that of the US”

2016: US exported goods to China worth $115 billion, and imported from China for $463 billion. Trade deficit for US – $348 billion.
From the beginning of 2017: US exports to China – $69 billion, imports from China – $273 billion. So far, the trade deficit – $204 billion.
Besides, China holds $1.4 trillion of US debt. If they decided to reclaim the money, US must declare bankruptcy as it cannot pay that much back, as US currency reserve being of $116 billion.

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US-China trade war heats up as surplus hits record $34 Billion (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 136.

Alex Christoforou

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According to a report by the AFP, China’s trade surplus with the United States ballooned to a record $34.1 billion in September, despite a raft of US tariffs, official data showed Friday, adding fuel to the fire of a worsening trade war.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have soured sharply this year, with US President Donald Trump vowing on Thursday to inflict economic pain on China if it does not blink.
The two countries imposed new tariffs on a massive amount of each other’s goods mid-September, with the US targeting $200 billion in Chinese imports and Beijing firing back at $60 billion worth of US goods.

“China-US trade friction has caused trouble and pounded our foreign trade development,” customs spokesman Li Kuiwen told reporters Friday.

But China’s trade surplus with the US grew 10 percent in September from a record $31 billion in August, according to China’s customs administration. It was a 22 percent jump from the same month last year.

China’s exports to the US rose to $46.7 billion while imports slumped to $12.6 billion.

China’s overall trade — what it buys and sells with all countries including the US — logged a $31.7 billion surplus, as exports rose faster than imports.

Exports jumped 14.5 percent for September on-year, beating forecasts from analysts polled by Bloomberg News, while imports rose 14.3 percent on-year.

While the data showed China’s trade remained strong for the month, analysts forecast the trade war will start to hurt in coming months.

China’s export jump for the month suggests exporters were shipping goods early to beat the latest tariffs, said ANZ’s China economist Betty Wang, citing the bounce in electrical machinery exports, much of which faced the looming duties.

“We will watch for downside risks to China’s exports” in the fourth quarter, Wang said.

Analysts say a sharp depreciation of the yuan has also helped China weather the tariffs by making its exports cheaper.

“The big picture is the Chinese exports have so far held up well in the face of escalating trade tensions and cooling global growth, most likely thanks to the competitiveness boost provided by a weaker renminbi (yuan),” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics.

“With global growth likely to cool further in the coming quarters and US tariffs set to become more punishing, the recent resilience of exports is unlikely to be sustained,” he said.

According to Bloomberg US President Donald Trump’s new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement isn’t that different from the North American Free Trade Agreement that it replaced. But hidden in the bowels of the new trade deal is a clause, Article 32.10, that could have a far-reaching impact. The new agreement requires member states to get approval from the other members if they initiate trade negotiations with a so-called non-market economy. In practice, “non-market” almost certainly means China. If, for example, Canada begins trade talks with China, it has to show the full text of the proposed agreement to the U.S. and Mexico — and if either the U.S. or Mexico doesn’t like what it sees, it can unilaterally kick Canada out of the USMCA.

Although it seems unlikely that the clause would be invoked, it will almost certainly exert a chilling effect on Canada and Mexico’s trade relations with China. Forced to choose between a gargantuan economy across the Pacific and another one next door, both of the U.S.’s neighbors are almost certain to pick the latter.

This is just another part of Trump’s general trade waragainst China. It’s a good sign that Trump realizes that unilateral U.S. efforts alone won’t be enough to force China to make concessions on issues like currency valuation, intellectual-property protection and industrial subsidies. China’s export markets are much too diverse:

If Trump cuts the U.S. off from trade with China, the likeliest outcome is that China simply steps up its exports to other markets. That would bind the rest of the world more closely to China and weaken the global influence of the U.S. China’s economy would take a small but temporary hit, while the U.S. would see its position as the economic center of the world slip into memory.

Instead, to take on China, Trump needs a gang. And that gang has to be much bigger than just North America. But most countries in Europe and East Asia probably can’t be bullied into choosing between the U.S. and China. — their ties to the U.S. are not as strong as those of Mexico and Canada. Countries such as South Korea, Germany, India and Japan will need carrots as well as sticks if they’re going to join a U.S.-led united trade front against China.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the escalating trade war between the United States and China, and the record trade surplus that positions China with a bit more leverage than Trump anticipated.

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Via Zerohedge Trump Threatens China With More Tariffs, Does Not Seek Economic “Depression”

US equity futures dipped in the red after President Trump threatened to impose a third round of tariffs on China and warned that Chinese meddling in U.S. politics was a “bigger problem” than Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

During the same interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”, in which Trump threatened to impose sanctions against Saudi Arabia if the Saudis are found to have killed WaPo reported Khashoggi, and which sent Saudi stock plunging, Trump said he “might,” impose a new round of tariffs on China, adding that while he has “great chemistry” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and noting that Xi “wants to negotiate”, he doesn’t “know that that’s necessarily going to continue.” Asked if American products have become more expensive due to tariffs on China, Trump said that “so far, that hasn’t turned out to be the case.”

“They can retaliate, but they can’t, they don’t have enough ammunition to retaliate,” Trump says, “We do $100 billion with them. They do $531 billion with us.”

Trump was also asked if he wants to push China’s economy into a depression to which the US president said “no” before comparing the country’s stock-market losses since the tariffs first launched to those in 1929, the start of the Great Depression in the U.S.

“I want them to negotiate a fair deal with us. I want them to open their markets like our markets are open,” Trump said in the interview that aired Sunday. So far, the U.S. has imposed three rounds of tariffs on Chinese imports totaling $250 billion, prompting China to retaliate against U.S. products. The president previously has threatened to hit virtually all Chinese imports with duties.

Asked about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s alleged efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, Trump quickly turned back to China. “They meddled,” he said of Russia, “but I think China meddled too.”

“I think China meddled also. And I think, frankly, China … is a bigger problem,” Trump said, as interviewer Lesley Stahl interrupted him for “diverting” from a discussion of Russia.

Shortly before an audacious speech by Mike Pence last weekend, in which the US vice president effectively declared a new cold war on Beijing (see “Russell Napier: Mike Pence Announces Cold War II”), Trump made similar accusations during a speech at the United Nations last month, which his aides substantiated by pointing to long-term Chinese influence campaigns and an advertising section in the Des Moines Register warning farmers about the potential effects of Trump’s tariffs.

Meanwhile, in a rare U.S. television appearance, China’s ambassador to the U.S. said Beijing has no choice but to respond to what he described as a trade war started by the U.S.

“We never wanted a trade war, but if somebody started a trade war against us, we have to respond and defend our own interests,” said China’s Ambassador Cui Tiankai.

Cui also dismissed as “groundless” the abovementioned suggestion by Vice President Mike Pence that China has orchestrated an effort to meddle in U.S. domestic affairs. Pence escalated the rhetoric in a speech Oct. 4, saying Beijing has created a “a whole-of-government approach” to sway American public opinion, including spies, tariffs, coercive measures and a propaganda campaign.

Pence’s comments were some of the most critical about China by a high-ranking U.S. official in recent memory. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo got a lecture when he visited Beijing days later, about U.S. actions that were termed “completely out of line.” The tough words followed months of increases tit-for-tat tariffs imposed by Washington and Beijing that have ballooned to cover hundreds of billions of dollars in bilateral trade.

During a recent interview with National Public Radio, Cui said the U.S. has “not sufficiently” dealt in good faith with the Chinese on trade matters, saying “the U.S. position keeps changing all the time so we don’t know exactly what the U.S. would want as priorities.”

Meanwhile, White House economic director Larry Kudlow said on “Fox News Sunday” that President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will “probably meet” at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires in late November. “There’s plans and discussions and agendas” being discussed, he said. So far, talks with China on trade have been “unsatisfactory,” Kudlow said. “We’ve made our asks” on allegations of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers, he added. “We have to have reciprocity.”

Addressing the upcoming meeting, Cui said he was present at two previous meetings of Xi and Trump, and that top-level communication “played a key role, an irreplaceable role, in guiding the relationship forward.” Despite current tensions the two have a “good working relationship,” he said.

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BREAKING: Explosion in Crimea, Russia kills many, injuring dozens, terrorism suspected

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

The Duran

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“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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10 percent of American F-22 fighter jets damaged by Hurricane Michael

Part of the reason the F-22’s were left in the path of the storm is that they were broken and too expensive to fix or fly.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Note to the wise: When a hurricane comes, move your planes out of the way. Especially your really expensive F-22 fighter planes. After all, those babies are $339 mil apiece. Got the message?

Apparently the US Air Force didn’t get this message. Or, did they find themselves unable to follow the message?

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The Washington Times reported Tuesday that between 17 and 20 of these top-of-the-line fighter jets were damaged, some beyond the point of repair, when Hurricane Michael slammed ashore on Mexico Beach, Florida, not far from the Tyndall Air Force Base in the same state. The Times reports that more than a dozen of the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the extremely fierce storm:

President Trump’s tour Monday of devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael took him close to Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base, where more than a dozen F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the powerful storm.

The pricey fighter jets — some possibly damaged beyond repair — were caught in the widespread destruction that took at least 18 lives, flattened homes, downed trees and buckled roads from Florida to Virginia.

The decision to leave roughly $7.5 billion in aircraft in the path of a hurricane raised eyebrows, including among defense analysts who say the Pentagon’s entire high-tech strategy continues to make its fighter jets vulnerable to weather and other mishaps when they are grounded for repairs.

“This becomes sort of a self-defeating cycle where we have $400 million aircraft that can’t fly precisely because they are $400 million aircraft,” said Dan Grazier, a defense fellow at Project on Government Oversight. “If we were buying simpler aircraft then it would be a whole lot easier for the base commander to get these aircraft up and in working order, at least more of them.”

This is quite a statement. The F-22 is held to be the tip of the American air defense sword. A superb airplane (when it works), it can do things no other plane in the world can do. It boasts a radar profile the size of a marble, making it virtually undetectable by enemy radars. It is highly maneuverable with thrust-vectoring built into its engines.

However, to see a report like this is simply stunning. After all, one would expect that the best military equipment ought to be the most reliable as well. 

It appears that Hurricane Michael figuratively and physically blew the lid off any efforts to conceal a problem with these planes, and indeed with the hyper-technological basis for the US air fighting forcesThe Times continues:

Reports on the number of aircraft damaged ranged from 17 to 22 or about 10 percent of the Air Force’s F-22 fleet of 187.

The Air Force stopped buying F-22s, considered the world’s most advanced fighter jets, in 2012. The aircraft is being replaced by the F-35, another high-tech but slightly less-expensive aircraft.

Later in the tour, at an emergency command center in Georgia, Mr. Trump said the damage to the F-22s couldn’t be avoided because the aircraft were grounded and the storm moved quickly.

“We’re going to have a full report. There was some damage, not nearly as bad as we first heard,” he said when asked about the F-22s, which cost about $339 million each.

“I’m always concerned about cost. I don’t like it,” Mr. Trump said.

Still, the president remains a fan of the high-tech fighter jet.

“The F-22 is one of my all-time favorites. It is the most beautiful fighter jet in the world. One of the best,” he said.

The Air Force managed to fly 33 of the F-22s to safety, but maintenance and repair issues kept 22 of the notoriously finicky aircraft on the ground when the powerful storm hit the base.

About 49 percent of the F-22s are out of action at any given time, according to an Air Force report this year.

This is a stunning statistic. This means that of the 187 planes in existence, 90 of them are not working. At their cost, that means that over thirty billion dollars worth of military equipment is sitting around, broken, just in airplanes alone.

As a point of comparison, the entire Russian military budget for 2017 was $61 billion, with that budget producing hypersonic missiles, superb fighter aircraft and tanks. Russian fighter planes are known for being able to take harsh landing and take-off conditions that would cripple the most modern American flying machines.

It would seem that Hurricane Michael exposed a serious problem with the state of readiness of American armed forces. Thankfully that problem did not arise in combat, but it is no less serious.

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