US, Cuba Open Embassies -- The United States and Cuba have formally reopened their embassies in each others' capital cities after 54 years. As President Obama stated, this is "a historic step forward," and in truth, it is long overdue. While it might have made sense in the 1960s to close the embassy, the failed policy of embargo was past its sell-by date by the 1970s. It didn't work. Meanwhile, the US opened an embassy in Beijing, treating with a nastier (because it was bigger) communist nation. The lack of an embassy throughout the 1980s to today has merely been historical stubbornness on the part of anti-communists who never understood how to fight communism. The fight can now be engaged. [2 July]
F-16 Beats F-35 in Mock Dogfight -- The US military appears to have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on a new aircraft that is inferior in combat to an aircraft designed forty years ago and built in the 1990s. A test pilot report discussed a mock dogfight held in January between a new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and a two-seated F-16D. In the report, the pilot reports that the F-35 did not perform as well as the F-16D in close-range combat maneuvers. The facts show that the F-35 is a lousy use of defense dollars and that further spending on it will actually endanger American fighter pilots. [1 July]
Puerto Rico Can't Pay Its Debts -- As the Europeans bungle their way toward a default by Greece on an IMF payment due today, the governor of the American Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has announced that the island possession can't pay its $72 billion public debt. Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla was blunt in calling for concessions from creditors, "The debt is not payable. There is no other option. I would love to have an easier option. This is not politics, this is math." He also used the words "death spiral." The parallels with Greece are there, but no one is demanding that Puerto Rico give up the dollar and establish its own currency. That would be dumb. [30 June]
Greek Banks, Stock Exchange Closed -- Greece and the EU have failed miserably to make arrangements for Athens to access funds it needs to pay its creditors. Tomorrow, June 30, Greece must make a payment to the IMF of âï¿½¬1.5 billion. There is âï¿½¬7.2 billion in bail out funds that Greece has available if the creditors agree to release it. Because the two sides have failed to agree on measures Greece must take, the funds will not be released. To protect what remains of the Greek financial system, the banks and stock exchange will be closed this week, and Greeks now must deal with capital controls. All of this is happening over an embarrassingly small amount of money. The amateurs are clearly in control. [29 June]
Supreme Court Says Same-Sex Marriage is Law of the Land -- Today, the day after the Supreme Court upheld the basic funding mechanism of the Affordable Care Act, it decided to acknowledge that equality before the law means same-sex marriage is the law of the land. In a 5-4 decision, the Supremes over-ruled a Sixth Circuit decision that held only heterosexual couples could enter into such a contract. The whining from the right has already begun, and the decision of Obergefell v. Hodges will be hated as much in those circles as Roe v. Wade. Still, a constitutional amendment is now required to undo this. The great pity is that a decision about equality before the law was not 9-0. [26 June]
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