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Daily Archives: March 3, 2022

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The Javelin Is Wrecking Putin’s Army. Here’s How the Anti-Tank Weapon Works.

Ross Pomeroy wrote . . . . . . . . .

Ukraine is a highly devout country – about 87% of its 41 million citizens practice Christianity. So it’s notable that, to many Ukrainians, Mary Magdalene now has a new moniker: St. Javelin.

The viral meme (shown above) recasting the “Apostle of the apostles” is in reverence to a device that knows no religion: the FGM-148 Javelin portable fire-and-forget anti-tank missile. Since the start of Putin’s dastardly invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian freedom fighters have extensively utilized the American-made weapon system – co-produced by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon – to rain destruction down upon the Russian military’s armored vehicles. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry estimates that 102 tanks and 536 armored vehicles had been destroyed as of February 26th. The Javelin likely factored heavily into that rousing combat success.

“This weapon allows a single soldier to target and destroy even the most heavily armored main battle tank with an almost guaranteed kill rate, at great range and with minimal risk,” Army Capt. Vincent Delany wrote of the Javelin for West Point’s Modern War Institute.

So how does this ‘holy’ piece of military machinery work? Laypersons might be envisioning a bazooka-like operation, but anti-tank weapons have evolved considerably since that quintessential rocket launcher was deployed in World War II. With the Javelin, a soldier using the portable, reusable Command Launch Unit (CLU) looks through an infrared sight to locate a target up to an incredible 2.5 miles away. When the user spots a target, he operates a cursor to set a square around it, almost like cropping an image. This is then sent to the onboard guidance computer on the missile itself, which has a sophisticated algorithmic tracking system coupled with an infrared imaging device. When the missile locks on to the target, the operator can launch the self-guided weapon and quickly relocate or reload to fire another missile at a different target.

The Javelin originally debuted in 1996, bearing a couple remarkable innovations. For one, it offers a “soft launch.” David Qi Zhang of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute explained what that means in his Master of Engineering thesis on the Javelin.

“The first motor… produces enough thrust to launch the missile out of the tube and a safe distance away, but is completely burned before the nozzle left the tube, leaving no exhaust to hit the operator. The flight motor then ignites to propel the [missile] along its attack path,” he wrote.

A second innovation of the Javelin is that it strikes from above. The missile rises high into the air, up to 490 feet, then blasts down on its target from a steep angle, striking the top of an armored vehicle or tank, where the armor is typically weakest.

Russian tanks are not helpless against the Javelin. Most are equipped with explosive reactive armor. When struck by a penetrating weapon like a missile, the armor detonates, blasting a metal plate outwards to damage the missile’s penetrator and prevent it from piercing the tank’s main armor. The Javelin overcomes this by having tandem warheads, one to deal with the reactive armor plate, and the second to impact the tank’s armor itself. Modern Russian tanks are also equipped with a radar system called Arena, which detects incoming missiles and automatically fires a wide burst of projectiles to destroy or redirect them. But here, again, the Javelin reigns supreme, Delany says.

“The Javelin can defeat Arena while in top-attack mode, due to the missile descending from too steep an angle for the system to engage properly,” he wrote.

Ukraine had been shipped roughly 77 launchers and 740 missiles before Putin invaded. Many, many more of each are now on the way courtesy of the U.S. and European allies. May the Ukrainians put them to good use. Slava Ukraini!

Source : Real Clear Science

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What is China’s SWIFT Equivalent and Could It Help Beijing Reduce Reliance on the US Dollar?

Frank Tang wrote . . . . . . . . .

The United States, European Union, Canada and Britain have decided to exclude selected Russian banks from the Swift financial messaging system, the so-called nuclear option for sanctions.

While the list of banks is yet to be released, China is watching developments closely, especially how the Russian equivalent to Swift works and to what extent it can contain damage to the Russian economy.

The move to ban Russian financial institutions is likely to accelerate expansion of Beijing’s own cross-border payment and settlement system, which has gained more prominence amid US threats to decouple its economy from China’s in 2019. Below are key facts about the Chinese system.

What is CIPS?

The Cross-Border Interbank Payment System, or CIPS, was launched in October 2015 to provide an independent international yuan payment and clearing system connecting both onshore and offshore clearing markets and participating banks.

Based in the financial hub of Shanghai, it employs more than 100 people and has registered capital worth 2.38 billion yuan (US$376.9 million). The important financial infrastructure is overseen by the People’s Bank of China.

The China National Clearing Centre, an affiliate of the central bank, is the largest shareholder, with a stake of 15.7 per cent. The National Association of Financial Market Institutional Investors, the Shanghai Gold Exchange, China Banknote Printing and Minting Corporation and China Union Pay each own a 7.85 per cent share, according to business registration information published by Tianyancha.com.

Foreign banks also have shares in CIPS, including a 3.92 per cent stake owned by HSBC Holdings, 2.36 per cent by Standard Chartered, and 1.18 per cent by the Bank of East Asia.

What is the origin of CIPS?

The system was created to boost international use of China’s currency, a mission started in 2009 with an initial focus on trade settlement. It became more important after Beijing initiated the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative that involves hundreds of billions of yuan worth of Chinese investment overseas.

Use of the yuan increased after its inclusion in the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights basket in 2015. However, its share is not in proportion with its status as the world’s second largest economy, accounting for 18 per cent of global gross domestic product.

Swift data showed that the Chinese yuan accounted for 3.2 per cent of global payments in January, far below the US dollar, which accounted for 39.92 per cent of settlements, the euro on 36.56 per cent and the British pound at 6.3 per cent.

CIPS reported 2.68 million transactions in the first 11 months of last year, an increase of 58 per cent from a year earlier. The transaction value jumped 83 per cent to 64 trillion yuan, the Shanghai Securities News reported, citing data from the system operator.

Do overseas banks use CIPS?

After CIPS launched in 2015, 19 banks signed on to phase one of the project, including 11 Chinese banks and eight locally registered entities of overseas banks – Standard Chartered, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Citi Bank, DBS Bank, Bank of East Asia, BNP Paribas and ANZ.

In January this year, the system had 1,280 users across 103 countries, including 75 directly participating banks and 1,205 indirect participants. The operator said last year overseas indirect participants account for 54.5 per cent of the total.

The involvement of large international banks sets it apart from Russia’s System for Transfer of Financial Messages (SPFS), which has around 400 users but only a dozen foreign banks from countries such as China, Cuba, Belarus, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.

Standard Chartered led overseas banks in terms of CIPS transactions last year, according to a statement from the bank in mid-February.

How does CIPS compare to Swift?

CIPS is viewed as a possible alternative to the US-controlled global settlement system, which includes Belgium-based Swift and the New York-based Clearing House Interbank Payments System.

However, it is much smaller than Swift, which is used by 11,000 financial institutions across 200 countries or regions, including nearly 600 Chinese banks.

Currently, there is more cooperation than competition between the two systems. Swift set up a wholly-owned subsidiary in Beijing in 2019, while it also formed a joint venture with several affiliates of the Chinese central bank in early 2021, including CIPS.

What is the future of CIPS?

Chinese analysts believe sanctions on Russian banks will be a wake-up call for Beijing.

“As seen from Russia’s Swift exclusion and the China-US trade friction in recent years, it is necessary to reduce reliance on Swift to ensure financial security,” Dongguan Securities analysts Chen Weiguang, Luo Weibin and Liu Menglin wrote on Monday.

Tianfeng Securities analyst Miao Xinjun said on Monday the connection between international financial institutions and CIPS could receive a boost.

Swift sanctions on Iran and Russia – both important oil producing nations – could accelerate the decline of the petrodollar system and facilitate yuan internationalisation, Miao said in a note.

CIPS president Xu Zaiyue said in an interview with Shanghai Securities News last December the organisation aims to increase the number of directly participating banks.

“We hope to provide services all around the globe one day, and especially to facilitate services to overseas participants,” he said. “There will be CIPS services wherever there is yuan.”

Source : SCMP

New Zealand High Court Determined a Government-ordered Vaccination Mandate for Police and NZDF Is Unlawful

Ethan Griffiths and Caitlan Johnston wrote . . . . . . . . .

A High Court challenge questioning the legality of Covid-19 vaccination mandates for Police and Defence Force employees has been upheld, with the court determining that the government mandate is an unjustified incursion on the Bill of Rights.

In a decision released today, Justice Francis Cooke determined that ordering frontline police officers and Defence staff to be vaccinated or face losing their job was not a “reasonably justified” breach of the Bill of Rights.

The lawyer for the police and Defence staff at the centre of the claim is now calling for the suspended workers to return to their jobs immediately, saying many have given decades of service to their community and are still committed to their jobs.

The challenge, put forward by a group of Defence force and police employees, questioned the legality of making an order under the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act to require vaccination for frontline employees.

The challenge was supported by a group of 37 employees affected by the mandate, who submitted written affidavits to the court.

Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety Michael Wood, Deputy Police Commissioner Tania Kura and NZDF Chief People Officer Brigadier Matthew Weston filed affidavits defending the mandate.

As it stands, 164 of the overall police workforce of nearly 15,700 were affected by the mandate after choosing not to be vaccinated. For NZDF, the mandate affected 115 of its 15,500 staff.

The group relied on two aspects of the Bill of Rights – the right to decline a medical procedure and the right to religious freedom.

On the religious freedom argument, a number of those who made submissions referred to their fundamental objection to taking the Pfizer vaccine, given that it was tested on the cells that were derived from a human foetus.

Justice Cooke agreed with the claim, saying that “an obligation to receive the vaccine which a person objects to because it has been tested on cells derived from a human foetus, potentially an aborted foetus, does involve a limitation on the manifestation of a religious belief.”

Source : NZ Herald

Eating Too Many Sulfur Amino Acids May Boost Cardiovascular Disease and Death Risk

Eating too much food containing sulfur amino acids – primarily found in proteins such as beef, chicken and dairy – may increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease and death, according to new preliminary research.

Sulfur amino acids are essential for metabolism and overall health, but the average person in the United States consumes far more than needed – as much as two and a half times the estimated average requirement.

“This may provide part of the reason why people who consume diets that emphasize healthy plant foods have lower rates of cardiovascular disease than those who eat large amounts of meat and dairy foods,” said Laila Al-Shaar, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Penn State University College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania. She led the study presented Thursday at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health conference in Chicago.

The researchers analyzed data from 120,699 people in two long-term national studies, the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Participants completed detailed health questionnaires, including questions about their diets, every two to four years.

On average, participants ate more than twice the recommended daily amount of sulfur amino acids, mostly from beef, chicken and milk. After adjusting for other cardiac risk factors, the researchers found that, compared to those who ate the least, those who consumed the most sulfur amino acids had a 12% increased annual risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 28% increased risk of dying from the condition over the 32-year study period. The results are considered preliminary until the full findings are published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The vast majority – at least 94% – of the participants were non-Hispanic white men and women, and because they were health professionals, their socioeconomic status may not represent the overall population. This means the results might not be generalizable to other groups, Al-Shaar said. So, other studies should include populations with different dietary behaviors, specifically those whose protein intake is primarily from plant sources, she said.

Several animal studies in the past few decades have shown that restricting these types of amino acids – notably methionine and cysteine – delayed the aging process and helped animals live longer, but translating those benefits to people has proven to be difficult.

A study from the same Penn State research group published in The Lancet’s eClinicalMedicine journal in 2020 linked higher consumption of sulfur amino acids to higher cardiometabolic disease risk. But it was based on estimated diets from participants filling out just one or two questionnaires about their diets during the previous 24 hours. This new research builds on that work, with the advantage of using long-term diet data assessed by repeated food frequency questionnaires and health outcome data.

It also builds on a study Al-Shaar led as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. Published in the BMJ in 2020, it suggested that substituting high-quality plant foods such as legumes, nuts or soy for red meat might reduce coronary heart disease risk in men.

Al-Shaar said people can get their estimated average requirement of sulfur amino acids – 15 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day – through plant-based sources or fish. For a 150-pound adult, for instance, that would mean 1 cup of tofu and 1 cup of lentils a day. It can be also met through consuming a 3-ounce fillet of tuna.

“Since red meat has been found to be associated with worse health outcomes,” she said, “it would be better to focus on healthier sources of proteins for meeting the average requirement of sulfur amino acids.”

The new research adds focus to the overall way adults eat in the U.S. and highlights that a healthy diet should incorporate more fruits and vegetables, said Judith Wylie-Rosett, a professor of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

“We all need to look at dietary patterns because the American dietary pattern is far from the recommendations,” said Wylie-Rosett, who was not involved in the study. “But this study doesn’t give evidence that we should be focusing only on those two amino acids.”

The study also fits in with current research about metabolism and specific biomarkers, known as “metabolomics,” a tool that supports precision medicine tailored to a specific patient.

“We’re moving toward precision nutrition,” Wylie-Rosett said. “We’re getting much more sophisticated in how we can look at nutrition. This was a fairly simple study but may help inform future studies about some of these more complex ways of looking at nutrition and metabolism.”

Source: HealthDay