Can the US Military Build a Border Wall Even as It Struggles to Rebuild Itself?
In late March 2018, President Donald Trump and then-Defense Secretary James Mattis discussed the idea that the U.S. military could help the president achieve one of his cherished aims: The Pentagon would build a wall across the country’s southern border. 
 
“Securing Americans and securing the nation is of paramount importance to the secretary,” the Pentagon press secretary at the time, Dana White, said of the discussions with Trump. “They have talked about it, but I don’t have any more details as to specifics.” 
 
In the weeks and months that followed, a variety of reports seemed to raise questions about whether the U.S. military was in any position to be dedicating money or personnel to a border wall. There was, for instance, an April 2018 Government Accountability Office report wondering whether the military even had adequate data to assess its own state of combat readiness. 
 
In October, there came a more sweeping report from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. In its 2019 “Index of U.S. Military Strength,” what the foundation bills as its comprehensive annual assessment of America’s military power, the organization concluded: “As currently postured, the U.S. military is only marginally able to meet the demands of defending America’s vital national interests.” 
 
Among the report’s highlights: 
 
  • The Air Force and Marine Corps both received “weak” readiness ratings, with the Air Force mired in a crippling shortage of fighter pilots (more than 1,000) and fighter aircraft (nearly 300). The average fighter pilot is currently flying fewer than two times a week, severely degrading combat readiness of the force. 
  • Of the U.S. Army’s 31 brigade combat teams, the building blocks of American ground combat power, only 15 are considered “ready” and only eight of those are “fully ready.” Army leaders have said it could be 2022 before the service gets to its goal of two-thirds of its active BCTs ready. 
  • The Marine Corps maintained its 2018 “weak” comprehensive rating, with approximately half of its amphibious ship and tactical aircraft fleets unavailable for current operations. 
 
In the Heritage Foundation’s news release about the report, Tom Spoehr, director of the Center for National Defense and a retired Army lieutenant general, said: “There can be no doubt — the U.S. military is still too small, insufficiently ready, and under-modernized. Despite recent, much-needed increases in the defense budget, rebuilding will take years. The consistent theme across the services has been one of degraded readiness, outdated equipment and overburdened service members.” 
 
The state of America’s military readiness is no abstract question. A year before the 2018 Heritage Foundation report on military strength, the Navy suffered back-to-back disasters when 17 sailors died in two accidents involving destroyers in the vaunted Seventh Fleet. The state of the fleet’s readiness came in for withering critiques in the aftermath of the accidents. 
 
“In general, we’re asking too few ships to do too many things,” Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said at a meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee after the Navy produced a series of reports on the fatal accidents…
 
 
 
 
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World Bank head quits, Trump likely to determine successor
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has announced that he is stepping down as the head of the premier anti-poverty institution putting the likely choice of its future leadership in the hands of US President Donald Trump, a sceptic of international development.
 
Trump's role is expected reinvigorate challenges to Washington's monopoly on appointing the Bank's head.
 
Announcing his decision on Monday, Kim said in a tweet: "It's been the greatest privilege I could have ever imagined to lead the dedicated staff of this great institution to bring us closer to a world that is finally free of poverty."
 
Kim, 59, who is dropping out 19 months into his second term on February 1, would be joining a private company and focus on infrastructure investments in developing countries, the Bank said.
 
The Bank's CEO Kristalina Georgieva will become the interim president till a successor to Kim is appointed.
 
As the largest share-holder, the US by tradition appoints the head of the Bank, while Europeans determine the chief of the International Monetary Fund.
 
Kim was nominated for the job by former President Barack Obama in 2012.
 
Before Trump's election, Kim was hastily re-appointed in September 2016 to a second term that began in July 2017 with an eye on pre-empting a possible Trump nominee getting the job.
 
Now, however, Trump will get an opportunity to nominate the Bank's head.
 
Trump's role will resurrect and strengthen challenges to the post-World War II model of the leadership of the 189-member bank that has always been determined by the US .
 
Already the US nominee was challenged for the first time in 2012 by two contenders.
 
Colombian economist Jose Antonio Ocampo Gaviria eventually withdrew from the race, while Nigeria's then-Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala lost when the Bank's directors rubber-stamped Kim's appointment.
 
Now there will be robust demands for reconsidering the US leadership of the Bank and stronger non-American contenders for the job.
 
Kim, a South Korea-born US citizen, was an unusual leader for the Bank: He was a medical doctor by training, a specialist in public health and an academic with a Harvard doctorate in anthropology who had led the Ivy League Dartmouth College.
 
But his background in health was a plus for the Bank's mission of fighting poverty and promoting development.
 
Under his leadership, the Bank adopted in tandem with the UN the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and focusing on the bottom 40 per cent of the population in the developing world.
 
The Bank's International Development Association, which funds programmes in the least developed countries, achieved two record replenishments during his tenure, the last one in 2016 for $75 billion.
 
Last April, the Bank also increased its capital by $13 billion with the unexpected support of the Trump administration.
 
Kim also pushed the Bank's cooperation with the private sector for financing development in the developing world, particularly in the areas of climate change and infrastructure.
 
China, though a part of the World Bank, has thrown a challenge to it by setting up its own development banking institutions.
 
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), founded in 2016 is one of those institutions and several countries including India, Germany, Britain and South Korea have joined it.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
 

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Ad or Not? Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas, aka Chonas
Wedding-themed Instagram posts preceding couple's nuptials were not just about their affection for each other.
 
Before Indian actor Priyanka Chopra and singer Nick Jonas, aka Chonas, tied the knot they said “I do” to a number of brands that they endorsed on Instagram in wedding-themed posts preceding the ceremony. But in promoting these brands, did they break a vow with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that sponsored posts be clearly and conspicuously disclosed as ads? With much attention being paid to the celebrity couple’s recent nuptials, TINA.org took a closer look. 
 
We start with Chopra and Amazon.
 
 
Right off the bat, we could tell you that the FTC would likely have a problem with the placement of #ad in the caption. This is due to the fact that, on mobile, Instagram users typically see only the first three lines of a longer post like Chopra’s unless they click “more,” according to the FTC. “And let’s face it: Many people don’t click ‘more,'” writes FTC senior attorney Lesley Fair in a blog post aimed at brands and influencers. “Therefore, disclose any material connection above the ‘more’ button.” And while Chopra uses Instagram’s built-in disclosure tool to communicate that the post is part of a “Paid partnership with amazon,” the FTC has stated that the tool, on its own, may not be sufficient.
 
According to Vanity Fair, Chopra only agreed to work with Amazon on her wedding registry after the online retail giant agreed to her philanthropic terms, which according to the Instagram post involved a $100,000 donation to UNICEF, the children’s charity. However, a material connection, as the FTC defines it, can take many forms and does not always have to be a monetary payment from brand to influencer.
 
Jonas, you’re up.
 
 
When it comes to material connections, Jonas has a strong one with the brand he endorses in this Instagram post. According to Vanity Fair, Jonas is an investor in Lime electric scooters, making the need to disclose arguably more important. How does he do? We’ll give him a D-minus. Like his belle, Jonas utilizes Instagram’s built-in disclosure tool, the shortcomings of which are discussed above. But rather than bury #ad in the caption, Jonas has chosen to neglect the hashtag entirely.
 
In another bachelor party weekend Instagram post, Jonas dons a yacht captain’s hat as he poses with a bottle of Elit vodka, a brand with which he has “a long-standing relationship,” per Vanity Fair. Again, the only form of disclosure is the built-in tool.
 
Together, the three sponsored posts — Chopra’s for Amazon and Jonas’ for Lime and Elit — have garnered more than 3 million likes as of this writing.
 
Priyanka and Nick, we wish you the best. May you always remember to make time for the little things, like disclosing your material connections to brands.
 
Find more of our coverage on influencer marketing here.
 
 
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