The Most Powerful Military | The United States of Age | Rise & Shine

APRIL 29, 2019  /   SUBSCRIBE




“When humans were young, they were pushed around in strollers. When they were old, they were pushed around in wheelchairs. In between, they were just pushed around.”

– Tom Robbins

“No, that is the great fallacy: the wisdom of old men. They do not grow wise. They grow careful.”

– Ernest Hemingway

“It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.” – Andy Rooney



Will China’s Economy and Military Surpass the USA?: During the Cold War the Soviet Union was considered the most likely threat to world peace, and America’s biggest enemy. Russia’s president has done his best to regain some of the supremacy lost after 1991’s breakup of the Soviet Union, and Russia has certainly proved itself a formidable enemy of America’s political system. While that realization deserves exceedingly high attention, it is another country whose strength is outpacing all others. That country is China.

70 years ago revolutionary leader Mao Zedong founded the People’s Republic and brought China under Communist rule. Mao had famously written “Whoever has an army has power.” It was a massive military that enabled Mao and his comrades, including Xi’s father, to defeat the Nationalists in 1949. Afterward, steep increases in defense spending paid for an arsenal of high technology weapons, but subsequent weak leadership among senior military officials also allowed rampant corruption to become the rule. Meanwhile Xi’s first job out of university in 1979 was serving as a uniformed aide to the minister of defense. He became vice premier, then secretary-general of the Central Military Commission, China’s top military decision-making body, which gave him some military background. He kept a low profile, slowly working his way up the Communist Party and state bureaucracy. Known for avoiding controversy and observing strict party discipline, Xi’s compliant demeanor worked in his favor as he attained one position after another, until finally becoming China’s president in March 2013.

Once in power, all bets were off. Xi began overhauling and revitalizing the People’s Liberation Army, the world’s largest fighting force, which includes naval, missile, air, ground and cyber forces. He created a new chain of command leading directly to himself as chairman of the Central Military Commission. He accelerated the PLA’s shift to naval power from a traditionally land-based force. China now has conventional missiles that rival or outperform those in the US armory. Its shipyards contain the world’s biggest navy, and Beijing can launch nuclear-armed missiles from an operational fleet of ballistic missile submarines. The PLA is fortifying vast expanses of the South China sea and is preparing to recover Taiwan, by force if necessary. Far from remaining compliant, Xi has emerged as a risk-taker, willing to impose radical change at the top of the party, government and military. This is the new reality. It has led serving and retired senior US military officers to advise that America’s supremacy in Asia is no longer assured. In other words, in a regional confrontation with China, there is no guarantee America would prevail.




From The Maker Of Snake Oil: Minister Narendra Modi, who is running for a second term, is a Hindu nationalist who wants the country’s majority Hindu faith to play a bigger role in politics, public life — even in local markets. Currently there’s a Hindu wellness craze, based on ancient Hindu healing practices known as ayurveda, that includes food and cosmetics, and cow products. Cows are considered sacred, and many Hindus believe cow excrement has healing powers. Because of this, farmhands at cow shelters line up every morning with buckets to collect the cows’ urine. Dung gets scooped up and spread out to dry in the sun in an even layer or in patties. This is where 35-year-old entrepreneur Umesh Soni sources ingredients for his Cowpathy line of cosmetics. Soni believes the drying process eliminates bacteria, so after gathering up his “ingredients,” employees at a nearby factory mix cow urine and dung with natural fragrances and oils to make soap, shampoo, face wash — even lip balm. Soni sells the products at a tiny boutique in downtown Mumbai, and on Amazon. (NPR) Additional read: “Cow Dung Soap Is Cleaning Up In India.” (NPR)

The Fallout And Falling Out Of The Sri Lanka Easter Attacks: Sri Lanka’s president said authorities are looking for 140 people with suspected ties to the Islamic State in the aftermath of Easter Sunday’s coordinated bombings that killed at least 250 people and wounded hundreds more. In a house in the Eastern province, where soldiers had pursued suspects following the bombings, 15 bodies were found, including six children. Three suspects were also killed. On Friday the US State Department urged Americans to reconsider travel to Sri Lanka. Children of US government employees were ordered to leave; nonemergency government employees and their families were also authorized to leave. The department warned that terrorists may target public locations such as places of worship, transportation hubs and markets. (NPR)

Passing On The Passports: On Saturday Russian president Vladimir Putin offered to provide passports to Ukrainians in the country’s separatist east. Ukraine’s new president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who takes office in June, dismissed the offer by releasing a statement on Facebook late Saturday pledging to “give citizenship to representatives of all nations that suffer from authoritarian and corrupt regimes, but first and foremost to the Russian people who suffer most of all.” (Guardian)



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History Doesn’t Repeat Itself: Instead of the customary comedian, renown historian Ron Chernow, who wrote the book on Alexander Hamilton that became the basis of the wildly popular musical, was the keynote speaker at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this weekend. Chernow wasn’t trying to fill the shoes of a funny person, but he was quite humorous. His 28 minute speech was filled with amusingly significant stories about other presidents and their often strained relationships with the press. “Our best presidents have handled the press with wit, grace, charm, candor and even humor,” Chernow said, noting that John Kennedy could instantly win over an audience with his charm and self-deprecating sense of humor. Ronald Reagan had been scheduled to attend the 1981 White House correspondents’ dinner but had to cancel after he was shot on March 28, 1981. So he called into the dinner instead, joking to the audience: “If I could give you just one little bit of advice, when someone tells you to get into a car quick, do it.” “That was a touch of class that has been sorely missing in our political culture in recent years,” Chernow said.

Some unflattering comparisons were made between President Trump and his predecessors. George Washington, for example, was often brutalized in the press. “But despite this extreme provocation, Washington always honored the First Amendment,” Chernow said. “Like every future president, Washington felt maligned and misunderstood by the press. But he never generalized that into a vendetta against the institution.” Perhaps the biggest takeaway was the speaker’s reminder to everyone of the importance of a free press that reports on real facts. “Without the facts, we cannot have an honest disagreement.” (WaPo)



Jack Of No Trades, Master Of Everything: Researchers at universities in London and Australia attempted to measure what a Princeton philosophy professor contends is one of the most salient features of our culture — the ability to play the expert without being one. Or, as the social scientists put it, to BS. Unsurprisingly they found that males are much more likely than females to profess expertise they don’t really have, and as a corollary, rich guys are most likely to have no idea what they’re talking about. The researchers were able to delineate a number of key findings using a data set spanning nine predominantly English-speaking countries. One caveat, however— the study considered data drawn from the Program for International Student Assessment, which is administered to tens of thousands of 15-year-olds worldwide. (WaPo)

Rise & Shine: In 1991 a 32-year-old woman from the United Arab Emirates was injured in a road accident that left her in a state of reduced consciousness. 27 years later, in June 2018, she woke up at a clinic near Munich, Germany, where doctors has been treating her for the complications of her long illness. Her 32-year-old son, who was four when the accident happened, said last week: “I never gave up on her, because I always had a feeling that one day she would wake up.” The chief physician at the private hospital in Germany said the woman had been in a state of minimal consciousness, and only a handful of cases like hers had ever been recorded. (NYT)

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