Saturday, September 26, 2020

"Consider all verbal orders as circulars or face consequences"

Said Gotabaya Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka, on 25 September 2020 as reported by Sri Lanka's Daily Mirror Online (DMOL). 

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has directed the officials to treat all of his verbal orders issued for the common good of the people as circulars to be implemented or face stern action if failed to do so.

According to the DMOL, the President made these directives at the "Discussion with Villagers" forum which commenced at Velanwita village in Haldummulla, Badulla. The DMOL quoted President as saying: “I expect public officials to consciously comprehend the problems of the people and provide solutions. I will always stand by the officials who make the right and unwavering decisions on behalf of the people. State institutions take a long time to address people's issues. If a written inquiry from one institution does not receive a reply from the other institution within 14 days, consider it as approved.” He warned that  “Those who neglect this will face stern action.”

Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected as the 7th Executive President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka following the Presidential Election held on 16th November 2019.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

"Citizenship has acquired an enormous economic value"

Branko Milanović
Branko Milanović, in a blogpost titled "Is citizenship just a form of rent?" 

Branko Milanović is a visiting presidential professor at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and a senior scholar at the Stone Center on Socio-economic Inequality.

In a globalised world, composed of countries with vastly unequal mean incomes, citizenship has acquired an enormous economic value, argues Milanović. 

"The existence of the welfare state in a world of enormous income differences between the countries has drawn a wedge between citizens of rich countries that enjoy these benefits and citizens of poor countries that do not. It has created a “citizenship rent” for those who are lucky to be citizens of the rich countries; and “citizenship penalty” for others. Two otherwise  identical citizens of France and Mali will have entirely different sets of income-generating rights which stem from their citizenships alone."

Prof. Milanovic continues: "Our French and Malian citizens can be equally educated, experienced, and hard-working, but their wages will differ by a factor of 5 to 1, or even more, simply because one of them works in a rich and another in a poor country. In fact, around 60% of our lifetime incomes is determined by country of citizenship."

Prof. Milanovic’s paper "Global Inequality of Opportunity: How Much of Our Income Is Determined by Where We Live?" was published in May 2015 in the Review of Economics and Statistics (vol. 97, no. 2. pp. 452-460). The author has provided the above link for those who wish to read this paper.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

“You cannot squeeze blood from a stone”

Maritess Jocson-Agoncillo
said Maritess Jocson-Agoncillo, executive director of the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines (CONWEP) to Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat of Manila Bulletin who wrote a post titled: "Deep job cuts hit garment sector."

It is reported that the labor-intensive garment and apparel manufacturing industry is cutting jobs across all companies following a 50 percent decline in exports in the global market, particularly the US.

Maritess Jocson-Agoncillo, executive director of the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines (CONWEP), said at least 21,518 garment and apparel workers are going to lose jobs starting last June up to end this year. Some small companies that were not CONWEP members had started laying off since April this year.

“You cannot squeeze blood from a stone,” said Agoncillo. Already, 20 percent of its CONWEP’s 112,000 workers would be furloughed or retrenched. The entire garment industry employs 260,000 to 280,000 workers of which 112,000 are from CONWEP with most members coming from Regions 3, 4 and 7. The number of workers affected was based on its May survey, another survey is going to be conducted in October to assess the situation.

It is alleged that most of CONWEP members are big companies and are footloose, meaning they have operations all over. Because of the pandemic and the long lockdowns, some of them may just have shifted their production to other countries like Vietnam and Cambodia with less stringent lockdown and quarantine restrictions.

Agoncillo, however, denied that some CONWEP members are closing operations permanently but admitted that retrenchments are happening across member firms.

“Some companies have gone into repurpose and were able to save some  jobs, but there are some CONWEP members like those in shoes and bags that cannot just repurpose to manufacture face masks and personal protective equipment because not anyone can spend $3 million to $4 million to get into a clean room set up for a repurpose firm,” she explained.

Agoncillo also denied reports that retrenched workers were not given advanced notice. "The garment manufacturing sector is one of the most unionized industries in the country," she said.

Agoncillo, who likened the industry situation in 2006 or the year after the abolition of the garment quota, said, “We live by the day.”

Thursday, September 3, 2020

We see a world across all warfighting domains where fourth and fifth-generation fighters and tactical forces on the ground can connect seamlessly with holistic situational awareness. Interoperability and battlespace connectivity are critical to staying ahead of our adversaries

said Kay Sears, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Military Space.

Lockheed Martin To Build 10 Small Satellite Mesh Network In Two Years

Space Development Agency Transport Layer will use commercial approaches with rapid development and launch

Littleton, Colorado (USA), Sept. 1, 2020 – The Space Development Agency (SDA) awarded a Tranche 0 contract of the Space Transport Layer to Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) to demonstrate a mesh network of 10 small satellites that links terrestrial warfighting domains to space sensors – all launching in just two years.

The $187.5-million contract for Transport Layer’s Tranche 0 is an initial test and demonstration phase, with two prime contractors building a total of 20 satellites. The first step toward building an interoperable, connected secure mesh network, it will help enable Joint All-Domain Operations, allowing warfighters to stay ahead of emerging threats. By linking nodes together, seamless connectivity is created between all domains, much like today’s smartphones.

“We see a world across all warfighting domains where fourth and fifth-generation fighters and tactical forces on the ground can connect seamlessly with holistic situational awareness,” said Kay Sears, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Military Space. “Interoperability and battlespace connectivity are critical to staying ahead of our adversaries.”

The 10 satellites, operating in Low Earth Orbit, will provide secure high-bandwidth, low-latency data links. Additionally, new Link 16 network connectivity will be introduced to space. This capability will connect to systems that include fighter aircraft like F-16, F-22, and F-35, missile defense networks like PAC-3 and THAAD, weapons systems, and Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) networks, and will provide sensor-to-shooter targeting and situational awareness for tactical land and maritime warfighters.

Changing the Dynamics of Warfighting

This beyond-line-of-site tracking, targeting and communications will dramatically extend U.S. warfighting options and allows additional coalition and allied partners to eventually bring their capabilities into the network. Interoperability extends into space with prospective data connections to commercial satellite communications (SATCOM) and other military protected satcom systems, which will require close partnership with multiple companies across industry.

How Software Adds Flexibility to Missions

Each Transport Layer satellite will be fully-software defined, using SmartSat™, Lockheed Martin’s software-defined platform that makes it easier to dynamically add and quickly change missions in orbit through simple app uploads. The satellites will also be fully cyber-hardened from day one using Lockheed Martin’s Cyber Resiliency Level® model to identify cyber strengths and weaknesses so we can address those early in the design process.

The Transport Layer contributes to resilience in space communications. Mission resilience comes from being able to form a seamless network of networks, with network nodes spanning multiple domains and services provided via multiple tactical data links, making it much harder for an adversary to disrupt because of network diversity and node distribution.

About Lockheed Martin

Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 110,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. 

Source: Press Release by Lockheed Martin Military Space

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Defining generations: Where Millennials end and Generation Z begins

"Pew Research Center decided a year ago to use 1996 as the last birth year for Millennials for our future work. Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 23 to 38 in 2019) is considered a Millennial, and anyone born from 1997 onward is part of a new generation," said Michael Dimock, president of Pew Research Center in his blogpost.

A short extract from Michael Dimock's blogpost is reproduced below:

Michael Dimock
Unlike the Boomers, there are no comparably definitive thresholds by which later generational boundaries are defined. But for analytical purposes, we believe 1996 is a meaningful cutoff between Millennials and Gen Z for a number of reasons, including key political, economic and social factors that define the Millennial generation’s formative years.

Baby Boomers grew up as television expanded dramatically, changing their lifestyles and connection to the world in fundamental ways. Generation X grew up as the computer revolution was taking hold, and Millennials came of age during the internet explosion.

In this progression, what is unique for Generation Z is that all of the above have been part of their lives from the start. The iPhone launched in 2007, when the oldest Gen Zers were 10. By the time they were in their teens, the primary means by which young Americans connected with the web was through mobile devices, WiFi and high-bandwidth cellular service. Social media, constant connectivity and on-demand entertainment and communication are innovations Millennials adapted to as they came of age. For those born after 1996, these are largely assumed.

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. Through public opinion polling, demographic research, content analysis and other data-driven social science research, the Center generates a foundation of facts that enriches the public dialogue and supports sound decision-making. It does not take policy positions.

Read the full blogpost here.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Beijing is masking the greatest health emergency in a century and the cost of this deceit is global: Thomas Georg John Tugendhat

Tory MP Tom Tugendhat said: 'Beijing is masking the greatest health emergency in a century and the cost of this deceit is global,' the Daily Mail, UK reports.

The report further says there is growing pressure for Britain to lead the way in urging China to reform its record on animal rights. A senior Minister said: 'We have always known their wildlife markets are a recipe for a pandemic. China needs to close these down immediately. If they don't, they will rightly become a pariah state.'

China also contributed to the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) desperately needed by Britain's doctors, nurses and other health professionals. At the height of the epidemic in Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province, Chinese leaders commandeered vast amounts of PPE, made in factories across China and destined for export.

UK safety equipment firm JSP had its two factories in China 'requisitioned by the government to make disposable RPE [respiratory protection equipment] for Chinese government agencies', according to a letter its chief executive Mark Johnstone sent to customers on February 3.

In addition, Chinese state-backed operatives working abroad were directed to bulk-buy medical supplies from Western countries. Overseas offices of Greenland Group, a property firm backed by the Chinese government, bought three million masks, 700,000 hazmat suits and 500,000 pairs of gloves as it 'felt compelled… to assist in efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus, which had caused a shortage of crucial medical supplies in China,' according to a company newsletter seen by the Sydney Morning Herald.

Ironically – and for critics, cynically – China has now started to donate masks and other equipment to other countries. Bank of China has sent 200,000 PPE items to Ireland and Chinese tycoon Jack Ma has given test kit, masks and other supplies to 54 African nations.

Tory MP Tom Tugendhat said: 'Beijing is masking the greatest health emergency in a century and the cost of this deceit is global.' 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Is Trump an authoritarian, or a crook? The answer is shaping up. Trump must be an authoritarian precisely because he is a crook.

David Frum
Said David Frum, a senior editor at the Atlantic, in his post titled "The President Is a Crook" today.

Frum indicated that the chances of Trump shutting down Robert Mueller’s Russia inquiry now have increased. "Trump has apparently calculated that the cost of closing down Robert Mueller’s inquiry is greater than the cost of enduring it. That always looked a gamble against the odds. Now it looks a proven bad bet, and a bet that will only worsen over time," he wrote.

Donald Trump has expressed his frustration (Listen here) many times saying "The saddest thing is that because I'm the President of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I am not supposed to be involved with the FBI."

Frum concludes writing this: "Trump’s whole philosophy of life is of a kill-or-be-killed competition. It’s an old question: Is Trump an authoritarian, or a crook? The answer is shaping up. Trump must be an authoritarian precisely because he is a crook. The country can have the rule of law, or it can keep the Trump presidency. Facing that choice, who doubts what Trump’s answer, or the answer of his supporters, will be?"

Read the full post here.