Browsing articles from "May, 2018"

In Military Name-Change, U.S. Pacific Command Becomes U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

May 31, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on In Military Name-Change, U.S. Pacific Command Becomes U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

The USS Carl Vinson transits the Philippine Sea while conducting a bilateral exercise with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force last April in the Philippine Sea.

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The USS Carl Vinson transits the Philippine Sea while conducting a bilateral exercise with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force last April in the Philippine Sea.

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In a largely symbolic move aimed at reflecting new national priorities, the Pentagon is changing the name of the Pacific Command to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

“Relationships with our Pacific and Indian Ocean allies and partners have proven critical to maintaining regional stability,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in prepared remarks delivered in Hawaii with the USS Arizona Memorial behind him.

“In recognition of the increasing connectivity between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, today we rename the US Pacific Command to US Indo-Pacific Command,” he said.

Mattis made the announcement during a leadership change, with U.S. Navy Adm. Philip Davidson taking over from outgoing Adm. Harry Harris. Harris has been nominated as U.S. ambassador to South Korea.

According to The Associated Press the change, “carries no fundamental shifts in troops, military missions or other Pentagon activities.”

The change comes along with the internal re-designation early in the Trump administration of the region as “Indo-Pacific” rather than the “Asia-Pacific” terminology long a convention in U.S. diplomatic circles.

China Plans Live-Fire Exercises In Taiwan Strait, As Xi Reviews Navy

China Announces Largest Military Spending Increase In 3 Years

Beijing Reportedly Installs Communications Jamming Equipment In South China Sea

In April, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Alex Wong told reporters the use of the term Indo-Pacific “acknowledges the historical reality and the current day reality that South Asia and in particular, India plays a key role” in the Pacific, in East Asia and Southeast Asia.

“That has been true for thousands of years and it’s true today,” Wong was quoted by the Press Trust of India as saying.

In a photo released by Xinhua News Agency, China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier is accompanied by navy frigates and submarines conducting an exercises in the South China Sea, in April.

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In a photo released by Xinhua News Agency, China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier is accompanied by navy frigates and submarines conducting an exercises in the South China Sea, in April.

Li Gang/AP

In 2016, the U.S. and India signed a Logistics Exchange Agreement, which strengthened their mutual security ties and made it easier for the two countries to conduct joint military operations. India’s NDTV writes that the agreement is aimed at countering “the growing maritime assertiveness of China.”

“The United States is also keen to tap into India’s large [defense] market. It has emerged as India’s No. 2 weapons supplier, closing $15 billion worth of deals over the last decade,” according to NDTV.

As India’s The Economic Times noted recently, “Although Russia remained by far India’s biggest arms seller, its share of total imports has fallen. Russia had a 62 per cent share of India’s arms imports during the past five years, down from 79 per cent in 2008-12, according to the report that tracks the global arms trade.”

North Korean Official Meets Secretary Of State Pompeo In New York

May 31, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on North Korean Official Meets Secretary Of State Pompeo In New York

Rachel Martin talks to Robert Gallucci, who was the chief negotiator during the 1994 North Korean nuclear crisis, about efforts that indicate plans for a proposed summit are back in high gear.

Michael Avenatti: A Profile Of The Media-Savvy Attorney

May 31, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Michael Avenatti: A Profile Of The Media-Savvy Attorney

Avenatti has made a name for himself by representing the adult film actress who says she had an affair with President Trump. From his earliest days in law school, Avenatti was hard to miss.

Sears Will Close 72 More Stores, After Quarterly Drop In Sales Of Nearly 12 Percent

May 31, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Sears Will Close 72 More Stores, After Quarterly Drop In Sales Of Nearly 12 Percent

Sears Holdings is closing 72 more of its stores, the operator of Sears and Kmart said on Thursday. Here, shoppers look for deals as the last remaining Sears store in Chicago prepares to close this summer.

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Sears Holdings is closing 72 more of its stores, the operator of Sears and Kmart said on Thursday. Here, shoppers look for deals as the last remaining Sears store in Chicago prepares to close this summer.

Patrick Gorski/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Sears Holding Corporation, which controls Sears and Kmart, says it has “identified approximately 100 non-profitable stores, 72 of which will begin store closing sales in the near future,” in the latest sign of the retailer’s struggles to stay afloat.

The figure represents more than 8 percent of Sears’ remaining stores. Sears Holdings announced the closures in its quarterly results that it released on Thursday, in which it reported revenues of approximately $2.9 billion – down from $4.2 billion in the same quarter one year ago.

Sears has not yet announced which stores will close. The company says its stores overall saw a decline of 11.9 percent for the quarter – including a 13.4 percent decline at Sears stores.

In the spring of 2017, Sears Holdings had 1,275 Sears and Kmart store. It now stands to drop that number further, with the latest batch of closures.

Last spring, the company acknowledged that “substantial doubt exists related to the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” in a federal filing that cited concerns over its profitability and debt.

The CEO of Sears Holdings is hedge fund manager Eddie Lampert, who is also both the company’s biggest investor and a major lender.

After an initial attempt to turn the company around, Lampert is increasingly seen to be in “hedge-fund” mode: As Marketwatch reports, he recently wrote a letter to Sears – “effectively Lampert writing to himself” – to suggest the company sell its Kenmore appliance brand to his investment fund.

Lampert also owns part of Seritage Growth Properties, which purchased more than 200 Sears and Kmart stores from Sears Holdings in 2015, and then leased them back to Sears. That batch of stores includes the last Sears location in Chicago; it’s scheduled to close this summer.

Sears has already sold its Craftsman brand, sending it to Stanley Black Decker, which then cut a deal to bring the tool and equipment brand to Sears’ rival Lowe’s.

As online retail sales have boomed, Sears has announced a string of mass store closures – including back in 2011, when it shuttered more than 100 Kmart and Sears locations.

In 2014, the former retailing titan closed its flagship store in Chicago – where it once called Sears Tower home. The building is now called Willis Tower.

Fatally Shot Russian Journalist Was Targeted For His Work, Ukrainian Police Say

May 30, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Fatally Shot Russian Journalist Was Targeted For His Work, Ukrainian Police Say

A Russian journalist who was fiercely critical of President Putin has been shot and killed in the Ukrainian capital Kiev. Arkady Babchenko isn’t the first Kremlin critic to be murdered in Kiev.

Trump Administration Announces New Restrictions On China

May 30, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Trump Administration Announces New Restrictions On China

Steve Inskeep talks to Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, about the tariffs the administration plans to impose on China. Navarro calls it a “historic decision.”

Pause In Palestinian Rocket Attacks, Israeli Airstrikes, Amid Unofficial Cease-Fire

May 30, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Pause In Palestinian Rocket Attacks, Israeli Airstrikes, Amid Unofficial Cease-Fire

Flames of rockets fired by Palestinian militants are seen over Gaza Strip toward Israeli lands, early Wednesday. The fighting mostly fell silent by daybreak amid an unofficial Egyptian-brokered cease-fire.

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Flames of rockets fired by Palestinian militants are seen over Gaza Strip toward Israeli lands, early Wednesday. The fighting mostly fell silent by daybreak amid an unofficial Egyptian-brokered cease-fire.

Hatem Moussa/AP

An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire appears to be holding for the moment along the Israel-Gaza border on Wednesday following the most intensive round of Palestinian rocket attacks and Israeli retaliatory airstrikes since a 2014 war.

Ahead of the unofficial truce, Hamas, the dominant group in Gaza, along with Islamic Jihad, fired scores of rockets and mortar shells into Israel Tuesday, setting off Israeli air raid sirens near the border throughout the day and night.

However, the attacks – as well as Israeli airstrikes on militant sites inside Gaza — fell silent by daybreak.

Reuters reports, “Schools opened as usual in Israeli towns near the frontier where rocket warning sirens sounded frequently on Tuesday. Gaza’s streets were filled with morning shoppers and children went to class.”

After Gaza Killings, World Reacts With Wave Of Condemnations, Calls For Restraint

Deep Contradictions Remain At The Core Of The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Hamas’ deputy chief in Gaza, Khalil al-Hayya, using the militant group’s term for Israel, said in a statement that, “An agreement was reached to return to the (2014) ceasefire understandings in the Gaza Strip. The resistance factions will abide by it as long as the Occupation does the same.”

Reuters writes:

“Israel stopped short of officially confirming any formal truce with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which it regards along with the West as terrorist [organizations].

But it launched no new attacks on Wednesday and [signaled] it was prepared to halt the hostilities if the cross-border barrages ended. Israeli officials declared that militants had been dealt a strong blow.

‘Firing has stopped since the morning and Israel conveyed a message that if it resumes, the attacks on Hamas and its associates will be even stronger,’ Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said on Israel Radio, according to Reuters. ‘It all depends on Hamas.”

Mormon Funeral Potatoes: The Carb-Heavy Meal For The End of The World

May 30, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Mormon Funeral Potatoes: The Carb-Heavy Meal For The End of The World

Carb-heavy comfort food is familiar to Mormons, here in the form of a popular dish called funeral potatoes.

Lauren Sanders


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Lauren Sanders

Carb-heavy comfort food is familiar to Mormons, here in the form of a popular dish called funeral potatoes.

Lauren Sanders

A few weeks ago, Facebook users got an unexpected bit of morbid advertising when they were targeted with ads hawking “funeral potatoes” from a Utah company known as Augason Farms. Many of them immediately took to Twitter, wondering a.) what on Earth funeral potatoes were and b.) why on Earth they would want any.

Mormons were not confused. They were limbering up in the social media wings, ready to explain their most delectable food invention to the world. You see, Mormons like me grew up eating funeral potatoes — not just at funerals, but at potlucks, Thanksgiving, and Sunday dinner. They are a combination of cubed potatoes, cream of chicken soup, cheese, and — the coup de grâce — a topping of butter-crisp Corn Flakes. This comfort food has pride of place next to other Mormon classics like cream cheese Jell-O, all manner of ice cream, and “dirty soda” — a virgin drink spiked with flavored syrup.

Funeral potatoes were memorialized as a collector pin during the 2002 Winter Olympics, held in Salt Lake. And just last year, a local food truck called Cook of Mormon started dispensing the indulgent dish around Salt Lake with a dash of Mormon nice. According to Jesse Ward — the erstwhile owner of the establishment, who doled out food dressed as a Latter Day Saint missionary — the lines were long.

Mark Augason of Augason Farms says it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. He has 16 years of food for 12 people, plus 2,500 gallons of water stored in his Heber City, Utah garage.

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Mark Augason of Augason Farms says it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. He has 16 years of food for 12 people, plus 2,500 gallons of water stored in his Heber City, Utah garage.

Lauren Sanders

Mormons, so the logic goes, are particularly obsessed with fatty, sugary foods because all other vices have been taken from them. The religion prohibits drinking or smoking, so they reserve their human frailty for carbohydrates.

Or it could be that the cuisine is an extension of Mormons’ devotion to 1950s values. Religious scholar Armand Mauss argues that around mid-century, Mormons turned from being a “peculiar people” (a phrase that harkens back to a time when the LDS Church was at war with the U.S. government, Utah was a communitarian theocracy, and the faithful practiced polygamy) toward assimilation.

Mormons wanted to become models of the mid-century mainstream. Their cuisine went from wholesome farm food to the processed, Crocker-esque diet many middle-class Americans were turning to at that time. Once a people who made everything from scratch, they became a people who put ready-made foods into other ready-made foods: canned soup on instant rice, Sprite in sherbet, and, of course, Corn Flakes on potatoes.

According to Jacqueline Thursby, a retired folklore professor at the Church-owned Brigham Young University, this new approach paired perfectly with the demands of the new Mormon housewife life, where big families and bigger congregations required food that could be made quickly, stored easily, and taste good to everyone. It was even more perfect for the Relief Society, the Mormon female auxiliary organization involved in ministering to the sick, poor and otherwise afflicted, who needed quick meals for the endless births, weddings, and deaths they attended. Funeral potatoes became a staple — an essential fast food for hard times.

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But as much as Mormon food practices have shifted since the pioneer days, there’s still an emphasis on that most frontier of values: self-reliance. Mormons leaders still instruct the faithful to maintain pantries full of preserved produce, as well as a three-month supply of food, drink, and other items that the Church calls “emergency preparedness.” Members recognize those items as the supplies they will need to weather the chaos that will precede the Second Coming of Jesus.

This has created a burgeoning “doom boom” industry in Mormon states like Utah, where many of the nation’s top food storage companies are located.

It’s precisely this blend of pioneer self-reliance and 50s comfort cooking that inspired Utah-based Augason Farms, a family-run company calling itself a “pioneer in the survival food business,” to create their emergency pouches of funeral potatoes featured in its Facebook ads. Their motto? Potatoes to die for.

What Does Mormon Food Culture Say About Mitt Romney?

Mark Augason, the head of the company, says he was just trying to have some fun. But his customers were shocked. “They were saying, ‘Why would you call it that, what does it mean?’ Some people were offended. Some people were intrigued. But most people made jokes about it.”

Augason likes to keep a sense of humor about things. The son of a food inventor, he says he’s always looking for the next big thing. This impulse dates back to his childhood, where every Wednesday his siblings gathered for Invention Day, battling it out to create the next big food sensation from items in their fridge.

As Augason got older, he kept up the rivalry tradition, challenging his wife’s aunt to an annual funeral potato bake-off. His twist? Frozen hash browns instead of cubed potatoes, two kinds of creamy soup, and Lays potato chips sprinkled on top. So when Augason pushed himself to create a new food storage product that was creative and went beyond the staples, it was no big stretch to come up with a just-add-water twist on a family classic.

Why Some Silicon Valley Tech Executives Are Bunkering Down For Doomsday

But food storage isn’t all laughs for Augason. In fact, he’s dead serious about preparing for disaster. In his Heber City, Utah garage alone, he has 16 years of food for 12 people, plus 2,500 gallons of water. “I don’t want to put my life in somebody else’s hands if I can do something about it,” he says. “We have insurance on our cars, we have insurance on our homes, we have insurance on just about everything. It doesn’t hurt anybody to store extra food.”

And Augason says disaster preparation is not exclusive to Mormons. He estimates that only ten percent of his current customers are Mormon, the rest range from hard-core preppers to religious folks to everyday people worried about natural disasters.

Still, Augason thinks preparing should also consider satisfaction — like the familiarity of a cheesy dish of potatoes around a kitchen table, inside a bunker or out. Funeral potatoes are not just for a loved one’s funeral, but could be for the ultimate funeral: the end of the world.

Efforts Are Moving Forward For A U.S. Summit With North Korea

May 29, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Efforts Are Moving Forward For A U.S. Summit With North Korea

President Trump says a North Korean diplomat is bound for New York. It’s the latest sign that the on-again-off-again meeting with North Korea’s leader maybe on again.

Trial To Start For Ex-CIA Officer Accused Of Passing Secrets

May 29, 2018   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Trial To Start For Ex-CIA Officer Accused Of Passing Secrets

Kevin Patrick Mallory is charged with passing national defense secrets to the Chinese government. He’s worked for the U.S. government for more than 30 years and speaks fluent Chinese.

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