Sunday, November 27, 2022


Of the countless history books, TV documentaries and feature films made about World War II, many accept a similar narrative of the war in the West: Though Nazi Germany possessed a superior army, better equipment and by far the best weapons at the outset, the British somehow managed to hold on until the U.S. entered the war early in 1942. After that, with Germany seriously weakened by its brutal clash with the Soviet Union in the East, U.S. economic strength propelled the Allies to victory. In Holland’s view, the long-accepted wisdom of Germany’s military prowess relies too heavily on the experiences of individual Allied soldiers on the front lines, without taking into account the reality of the Wehrmacht’s logistical capabilities. While understanding strategy (including leadership and overall war aims) and tactics (the actual fighting on the front lines) of any conflict is essential, he believes the operational level is what holds the strategic and tactical levels together. “If you’re an American soldier and you’re in Normandy in a foxhole, and you come up against a Tiger tank, all you care about is that it’s a huge tank with a massive great gun and if it fires a shell at you, you’re going to be obliterated.” Similarly, a Sherman tank facing off alone against one of the famously powerful German Tiger tanks would have no chance. “Looking at it operationally,” Holland explains, “a very different picture emerges. The Germans only built 1,347 Tiger tanks, whereas the Americans built 49,000 [Sherman tanks].” And what about that Tiger tank? An icon of the Wehrmacht, the heavily armored monster featured a complex six-speed gearbox designed by Ferdinand Porsche. It was also prone to mechanical malfunction, difficult to sustain in combat and needed a lot of fuel, one of the many resources Germany sorely lacked. Because Germany was so short on oil, steel and (most critically) food, Holland argues, the Nazis would have had to crush their enemies completely in the first phase of the war in order to have any chance of winning. Unable to defeat Britain in the West, Hitler had “absolutely no choice” but to invade the Soviet Union in the hopes of getting access to more resources. That invasion, of course, led to another enormously costly war for Germany on the Eastern Front, even as the United States joined Britain in the West.
President Biden on Monday traveled to Puerto Rico to survey the federal response to last month’s Hurricane Fiona, which ravaged an island that is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria.
“I’m committed to this island,” Biden said in Ponce, Puerto Rico. “You deserve every bit of help this country can give you.”
Fiona struck Puerto Rico as a Category 1 storm on Sept. 18, dumping nearly 30 inches of rain, triggering floods and mudslides, washing away bridges and causing an islandwide power outage.
Two weeks later, more than 120,000 homes and businesses are still without power. At least 16 deaths have been connected to the storm as parts of the island are still recovering from the damage caused by Maria, which hit Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane in 2017, killing nearly 3,000 people. “Over time, these losses add up,” Biden said. “Yet somehow, the people of Puerto Rico keep getting back up.”
Biden announced $60 million in additional funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help shore up levies, fortify the island’s floodwalls and create a new flood warning system for Puerto Rico’s 2.6 million residents.
A fast-moving Nebraska wildfire that started Sunday afternoon and was “likely human-caused” has scorched an estimated 15,000 acres and forced evacuations, according to the Nebraska National Forests & Grasslands.
The blaze, which officials are calling the Bovee Fire, broke out Sunday afternoon in the Bessey Ranger District of the Nebraska National Forest, Travis Mason-Bushman, the forest’s public information officer, told NBC News.
More than 100 firefighters continued battling the blaze Monday morning, according to Mason-Bushman, who said they hoped to stop it from spreading on the west side after reigning it in on its east and north sides overnight.
Video of the fire, captured by NBC affiliate in Nebraska KSNB, shows flames and clouds of smoke billowing from the forest.
By 7:30 p.m. Sunday, the fire had spread to an estimated 15,000 acres and pushed 15 miles north, according to Mason-Bushman. Firefighters were going to battle the blaze throughout the night and locals were implored to “please heed all evacuation orders or warnings from local authorities,” Nebraska National Forests & Grasslands said Sunday.
The surrounding campgrounds and the nearby Village of Halsey were evacuated earlier Sunday, the agency said on Facebook.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected two appeals by gun owners seeking to overturn the federal government’s ban on the sale of bump stocks — devices that allow a semi-automatic firearm to shoot more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger.
The court did not elaborate on its decision, which is a significant victory for gun safety advocates and government efforts to regulate dangerous weapons. The rejected cases are Aphosian v. Garland, and Gun Owners of America v. Garland. After the Las Vegas shooting massacre in 2017, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives revised federal regulations to define bump stocks as machine guns under a 1986 law that bans machine guns. This move upheld a promise by then-President Donald Trump to ban the devices following the event in which a shooter who used rifles equipped with bump stocks opened fire from his hotel room onto a crowd of outdoor concertgoers, killing 58 people.
Several gun rights groups challenged the ban over what they argued was mischaracterization of the devices and argued that the ATF lacked the authority under the National Firearms Act to reclassify bump stocks as machine guns, therein prohibiting their use. In their appeal, the groups did not argue that the bump stock ban would limit the perimeters of the Second Amendment.
“This decision sets a horrible and dangerous precedent, one that will allow the ATF to further arbitrarily regulate various firearms. This very same precedent is already being abused by Joe Biden to ban millions of lawfully purchased pistols even without an ACT of Congress!” Gun Owners of America Tweeted in a statement.
The decision by a conservative-majority court comes just after a major June ruling that expanded gun rights by ruling that the Second and Fourteenth Amendments allow an individual to carry a concealed handgun for self-defense outside the home.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded publicly on Monday to the biggest protests in Iran in years, breaking weeks of silence to condemn what he called “rioting” and accuse the United States and Israel of planning the protests.
The unrest, ignited by the death of a young woman in the custody of Iran’s morality police, is flaring up across the country for a third week despite government efforts to crack down.
On Monday, Iran shuttered its top technology university following an hours-long standoff between students and the police that turned the prestigious institution into the latest flashpoint of protests and ended with hundreds of young people arrested.
Speaking to a cadre of police students in Tehran, Khamenei said he was “deeply heartbroken” by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody, calling it a “tragic incident.” However, he lambasted the protests as a foreign plot to destabilize Iran, echoing authorities’ previous comments.
“This rioting was planned,” he said. “These riots and insecurities were designed by America and the Zionist regime, and their employees.” Meanwhile, Sharif University of Technology in Tehran announced that only doctoral students would be allowed on campus until further notice following hours of turmoil Sunday, when witnesses said antigovernment protesters clashed with pro-establishment students.
The witnesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said the police kept hundreds of students holed up on campus and fired rounds of tear gas to disperse the demonstrations. The student association said plainclothes officers surrounded the school from all sides as protests roiled the campus after nightfall and detained at least 300 students.
Plainclothes officers beat a professor and several university employees, the association added.
The state-run IRNA news agency sought to downplay the violent standoff, reporting a “protest gathering” took place without causing casualties. But it also said police released 30 students from detention, acknowledging many had been caught in the dragnet by mistake as they tried to go home.
The crackdown sparked backlash on Monday at home and abroad
MANILA, Philippines — More than 2,500 U.S. and Philippine marines joined combat exercises Monday to respond to any sudden crisis in a region long on tenterhooks over South China Sea territorial disputes and increasing tensions over Taiwan.
The annual military drills are the first major exercise between the longtime treaty allies under newly elected Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., military officials said. His predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, was an outspoken critic of U.S. security policies and frowned on military exercises with American forces he said could offend China.
Called Kamandag, the Tagalog acronym for “Cooperation of the Warriors of the Sea,” the drills involve 1,900 U.S. Marines and more than 600 mostly Philippine counterparts in mock amphibious assaults and special operations, U.S. and Philippine military officials said. America’s HIMARS missile launchers and supersonic fighter jets will take part in live-fire maneuvers that will end on Oct. 14, they said.
The venues include the western island province of Palawan, which faces the South China Sea, and the northern Philippines, across the Luzon Strait from Taiwan.
Philippine Rear Admiral Caesar Bernard Valencia said the exercises will focus on enhancing coastal defenses and are not directed against any country.
BIRMINGHAM, England — Britain has sent a Royal Navy ship to patrol the North Sea, as Western allies try to increase protection for undersea pipelines and cables after blasts ruptured two natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, the defense ministry said Monday.
The Ministry of Defense said a navy frigate is in the North Sea, working with the Norwegian navy “to reassure those working near the gas pipelines.”
The announcement came after a meeting of the Joint Expeditionary Force group of northern European nations. The force brings together troops from 10 countries, including the Baltic and Nordic nations, and has seen its importance increase since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
Britain’s defense ministry said “the group condemned the blatant attacks against civilian infrastructure.”
U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace also said Britain will acquire two specialist ships to protect undersea cables and pipes, with the first “multi-role survey ship for seabed warfare” operational by the end of next year.
Undersea blasts that damaged the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines last week have led to huge methane leaks. Nordic investigators said the blasts involved several hundred pounds of explosives.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday accused the West of sabotaging the Russia-built pipelines, a charge vehemently denied by the United States and its allies.
Britain has not officially blamed anyone for the blasts, but Wallace told the Conservative Party’s annual conference that “Putin’s reactions are wider than just Ukraine. His reach goes further. This week, we saw the ‘mysterious’ damage inflicted to the Nord Stream pipelines. And it should remind us all how fragile our economy and infrastructure is to such hybrid attacks.”
Britain has been a major contributor of military aid to Ukraine. Wallace said Britain would train another 20,000 to 30,000 Ukrainian troops in the U.K., in addition to the 10,000 it has trained this year.


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