Tuesday, March 22, 2005

First Sign of a Pandemic?

An article from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy is reporting that 195 people in the Chau Hoa commune of Quang Binh province in central Vietnam are being tested for the H5N1 Bird Flu virus because they have suspicious symtems. Of the 195 people 108 live in only one village in the commune. The CIRRAP story quotes heavily from a story in Than Nien News apparently a local Vietnamese paper. The article states, "If many of the people test positive for H5N1, it could mean that the virus is improving its ability to spread from person to person, thereby increasing the risk of a flu pandemic." AFP has a story that is skeptical of the 195 person claim.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

George F. Kennan Dies at 101

George F. Kennan one of the grand strategists of the cold war died Thursday night. Kennan, a realist, developed the strategy of containment in his famous article The Sources of Soviet Conduct in Foreign Affairs magazine. Oxblog has an good obituary/look at his thought. The New York Times obit is here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Anglospere Bloggers Unite!

The Times of India Group is trying to squash an Indian Blogger who has had the gaul to comment on the corporation and its publications. Link here.

Taiwan Crises Update

There is an interesting post on the Dignified Rant about the possibility that the People's Republic of China will invade the Republic of China on Taiwan some time in the next three years. (Hat Tip InstaPundit) This follows up on my earlier post China "Advises" Australia. The New York Times has a interesting story about Sec. State Rice's reaction to China's bullying. In a speech in New Delhi Ms. Rice called on Europe to rethink its decision to sell arms to China. "I hope it will remind the Europeans that there are still tensions in the region," she said, speaking to reporters on her plane. "It is not a time to end the embargo." Knight Ridder has a story about Taiwanese protests against China's threats.

The misuse of Quote Marks

There is nothing so irritating as the press' misuse of quote marks to bring into question the validity of a statement. This headline from the BBC is partularly egregious. It reads "Elderly woman 'killed by burglar'. " Why quote marks? This is not a direct quotation and if it is why use it as a direct quote. It is a strait foreword statement that the paper can make on its own. Is it in doubt that she was killed? Do they think the police are not telling the truth about the killer being a burglar? If they just don't want to assert the fact on their own, the headline could have read "Elderly woman killed by burglar Police Say" or "police believe woman killed by burglar." Why the quote marks?

War Update

The Australian Broadcasting Company is reporting that Filipino Troops have stormed a prison where jailed members of Abu Sayyef an Islamic terrorist group had seized the prison.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Bermuda Regiment

The Bermuda Royal Gazette has an interesting story on the carear of a Bermudian soldier.

Prince of Wales in Fiji

Charles, Prince of Wales arived in Fiji on March 10 as part of his visit to the South Pacific.

Bird Flu Update

The BBC reports a scientist is criticising the governments plans to deal with an outbrake of H5N1 flu virus. Professor Hugh Pennington, president of the Society for General Microbiology said the government is being over optomistic and not taking the problem seriously enough.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The ebay of finance

This is an interesting story about a firm that conects lenders and borowers directly.

Anglosphere Naval Reform 1

While the union of the English speaking nations is still in the future, one area in which joint operations have occurred extensivly is in navel matters. This is also an area where increased coordination could show benefits, especially in navel construction.
After decades of shrinkage, the decision of the labor government in 1998 to build replacements for the Invincible class aircraft carriers marks a turning point in British navel policy. While HMS Invincible and her sister ships HMS Illustrious and HMS Ark Royal have proven invaluable to the Royal navy, the fact is they were built as anti submarine warfare ships and originally they were intended to provide ASW power to a task force that would also include an attack carrier. When the CVA-01 project was cancelled the Royal Navy had to make do with just the Invincibles, but they are in reality not true capital ships.
When construction begins on HMS Queen Elizabeth next year, it will mark the first new construction of capital ships for the Royal Navy since the Second World War. (HMS Vanguard was the last RN battleship and HMS Ark Royal was the last fleet carrier) When she is launched in 2012, followed by HMS Prince of Wales (and isn’t it great to see that name being put back in commission) in 2015, it will transform the capability of the Royal Navy.
With a planed displacement of about 60,000 tons the Queen Elizabeth class (in depth here) is three times as large as the Invincible class and about 5,000 tons larger than the Audacious class ships, HMS Eagle and HMS Ark Royal which were the last fleet carriers operated by the Royal Navy. Her planed air wing of 35 strike fighters, 4 AEW aircraft and 6 helicopters is twice as large as the Invincible class’s wing of 22 aircraft. This however understates the improvement in combat power as the Harrier for all its virtues, has less range and speed compared to more conventional aircraft. Further the lack of AEW aircraft has left a serious hole in the Invicibles air wing.
In addition to the power it will give the Royal Navy, the Queen Elizabeth class represent an opportunity to strengthen both the Commonwealth of Nations and the Navies of Australia, Canada and India. The Royal Australian Navy has been without a carrier since HMAS Melbourne was decommissioned in 1982. The Royal Canadian Navy has been without a carrier since HMCS Bonaventure was decommissioned in 1970. The Indian Navy is manfully struggling along with INS Viraat, ex MHS Hermes and is building a ship based on the Italian Cavor design, but it is no secret that India wants and needs a more powerful ship.
I propose that Australia, Canada and India take this opportunity to join in the Queen Elizabeth class program. Four additional ships could be built, one for each country and fourth to be shared among the four navies when their carriers are in for overhaul. I propose the ships be named HMAS Australia, INS India, HMCS Canada, and HMS Commonwealth. The cost of Commonwealth could be shared out among the UK, Australia, Canada, and India on a 40%, 20%, 20%, 20% basis.
This proposal would massively increase the power of the RAN and RCN and greatly increases the power of the Indian Navy. It would also increase the deployability of the RN carriers.
Since these ships probably could not be completed until after 2015, I propose that as the Invincibles are decommissioned from the Royal Navy they be transferred to the other Commonwealth Navies in the project. Officially, Invincible will decommission in 2010, Illustrious in 2012, and Ark Royal in 2015. It is believed that one of the Invincibles, presumably Ark Royal will be retained to supliment HMS Ocean in the helicopter carrier role.
This would result in a schedual like this:
2010 HMS Invincible transferred to the RAN
2012 HMS Queen Elizabeth commissioned
HMS Illustrious transferred to the Indian Navy
2015 HMS Prince of Wales commissioned
HMS Ark Royal converted to Helicopter Carrier
2018 HMAS Australia commissioned
HMAS Invincible transferred to RCN
2021 INS India commissioned
INS Illustrious transferred to the RCN
HMCS Invincible mothballed
2024 MHCS Canada commissioned
HMCS Illustrious mothballed
2027 HMS Commonwealth commissioned
From the perspective of a United Crown Commonwealth this would result in a navy with five fleet carriers, necessary to protect the Sea Lines Of Communication of a CANZUK federation. From an anglosphere perspective this would add three new carriers to the fleets of the anglosphere nations. From both perspectives it would be a good thing.
Similar buys of the new Type 45 destroyer could also be entered into. Uniting the Anglosphere is a long term project, but the rationalization and expansion of the Navies of anglosphere nations should begin now.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Possible Flu Pandemic?

The H5N1 Flu virus may have made the jump to human to human transmission. Acording to a AFP story on the Australian Broadcasting Company web sit, a nurse who was tending a 21 year old flu patent has contracted the virus. The grandfather of the male patent has also tested positive for the virus as has his sister, but it is possible that they got it directly from sick poultry. The nurse is a more worrisome development. As a gage of how serious this version of the flu is, the 21 year old has been in critical condition for two weeks. The Flu virus is, in general, no joke. The worst out brake of flu (the H1N1 or Spanish Flu) in 1918,1919,&1920 was the worst pandemic in human history. During the height of that episode, more people died of the flu in 24 weeks than have died in the 24 years of the AIDS epidemic. People who woke apparently healthy developed symptoms and died with in 12 hours. All told the H1N1 flu killed 50 to 100 million people. What is especially worrisome is that the 21 year old seems to have the worst case. Usually the flu hits the very old and very young hardest. One of the unique features of the H1N1 flu was that it killed predominantly those in the prime of life.
The Center for Desease Control fact sheet on the H5N1 flu was updated today it reads in part “The H5N1 virus does not usually infect humans. In 1997, however, the first case of spread from a bird to a human was seen during an outbreak of bird flu in poultry in Hong Kong. The virus caused severe respiratory illness in 18 people, 6 of whom died. Since that time, there have been other cases of H5N1 infection among humans. Most recently, human cases of H5N1 infection have occurred in Thailand and Vietnam during large H5N1 outbreaks in poultry. The death rate for these reported cases has been about 70 percent. Most of these cases occurred from contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces; however, it is thought that a few cases of human-to-human spread of H5N1 have occurred.” A CBC article is here.

Ingrid Nears Queensland

Ingrid a cat. 4 cyclone nears the Queensland coast.

China "Advises" Australia

In what can only be a threat, China is advising Australia to shirk its responsibilities under the ANZUS treaty in the event of a confrontation over Taiwan. China is scared because the U.S. and Japan have jointly warned china against invading the Republic of China on Taiwan. The People's Republic of China has been threatening the use of force if Taiwan, which has been defacto independent since 1949, formally declares its independance. An article in the Sidney Morning Herald reports that "US intelligence agencies have leaked details of a frenetic large-scale Chinese build-up of amphibious assault ships apparently intended to back up Beijing's threats of force." An Associated Press article reports that Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council has said the China's new anti-secession law gives China's military "a blank check to invade Taiwan" and "exposed the Chinese communists' attempt to use force to annex Taiwan." The article says that the Taiwanese army is preparing to receive an invasion by the so called People's Liberation Army. BBC report here. AFP reports "Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao urged greater development of China's military, saying modernization of the army was of strategic importance to safeguard the eventual reunification of Taiwan." The full story is here. Knight Rider's report on the Taiwan crisis is here. The Asia Times story is here. What interests me is that the PRC is so desperate that it is threatening other major powers.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Canada's Global Role

This is an interesting assesment of Canada's Military power by Joseph R. Nunez in the Fall 2004 issue of Parameters the Quarterly Journal of the U.S. Army War College.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Bill Gates Knighted

The Sidney Morning Herald reports that Bill Gates is now a Knight Commander of the British Empire. The BBC has this story and photo. I like his software but why should be be knighted?

More: I want to add that I am happy that the tradition of giving honnorary knighthoods to Americans continues. The Queen clearly one of the points of unity for the anglospere even for a citizen of the great republic like myself.

Prince of Wales in Australia

Sky news has some interesting pictures of the Prince in Alice Springs. I hadn't realized he was down under. The Sidney Morning Herold didn't seem to have anything on the story, but the Australian Broadcasting Company had a story that reported the prince had politely refuesed to eat a witchetty grub during the visit to the Alice Springs