A show of strength

first_imgThe outliers here are Latvia and Lithuania, which spend dismally little on defence, and Sweden, which is planning cuts to its already malnourished military. One option is to scrap all mechanised army units. Another is to save the army but give up submarines. Another is to shrink all the services even further, but modernise the remnants. If I were in charge, I’d be frowning, not yawning. Edward Lucas edits the international section of The Economist. “Forgive me if I yawn,” said a senior American official when I asked about Russia’s recent Zapad-13 military exercise. It is true that even the Soviet military was not as mighty as it seemed – “Upper Volta with missiles” was a cruel jibe – and after 1991 the Russian armed forces fell into a pitiful state, fought to a standstill by lightly armed Chechens in 1996. But times are changing. Capabilities are improving fast, as Karlis Neretnieks, a retired Swedish general, has noted in a new paper assessing Zapad. In theory, this was an anti-terrorist drill. But, as he notes, an exercise’s scenario is less important than what really took place. The facts are striking. Zapad was huge: including related exercises elsewhere in Russia, it involved up to 70,000 troops. Moving large numbers of men and machines around is tricky: Russia used to be notably bad at this. In Zapad, it managed the task a lot better. Some 20,000 interior-ministry (MVD) soldiers were involved. Their job is to hunt down enemy special forces. Given how weak NATO’s land power has become, it would depend heavily on special forces in the event of a conflict. Integration with Belarus has improved too, with a joint amphibious landing from hovercraft in Kaliningrad, supported by ship-to-shore bombardment. Russia’s landing capability (for example, in the Baltic states or northern Poland) is an important factor. It has improved. Russia’s air force did well, practising the interception of approaching bombers with a fighter escort (again, nothing to do with anti-terrorist operation, but useful in the event of a conflict in the Baltic). Its UAVs (drones) featured as never before. Russia now has a ‘deep-strike’ capability from its ground-based systems such as the ‘Smerch’ rocket-launcher and Iskander missile (M1983 and SS-26 in NATO-speak). As Neretnieks points out, this is “disturbing” for anyone thinking of using out-of-theatre harbours and airfields to reinforce the Baltic states in the event of crisis – which is just what NATO’s contingency plans indeed depend on. He concludes: “We see a rapidly increasing Russian capability to mount large-scale, complex, military operations in its neighbourhood, co-ordinated with operations in other areas. It would be a mistake to see this just a problem for the Baltic states. It should have implications for most of Russia’s neighbours, and also for other parties interested in the security and stability in the Baltic Sea region.” It is also worth pointing out that this improvement precedes the planned $755 billion (€557bn) decade-long modernisation programme. By 2020, the Russian armed forces will – in theory – have one million active-duty personnel, and lots of new kit: 2,300 tanks, 1,200 helicopters and planes, 50 surface ships, 28 submarines, and 100 satellites. This does not make Russia invincible. It just makes it stronger – and thus requires correspondingly more effort from countries that want to mount a credible defence. As the United States winds down its military presence in Europe, NATO is getting weaker, not stronger. Poland is worried about this. It has started a big military modernisation, based on the (unstated) assumption that it may have to fight alone. The thinking of President Bronislaw Komorowski is that Poland should in future offer less to NATO (especially in missions overseas), and expect less too. last_img read more

Bar’s future to be shaped by technology

first_img February 15, 2009 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News Bar’s future to be shaped by technology Bar’s future to be shaped by technology Senior EditorLawyers and The Florida Bar will face tough economic conditions for the next few years, even as the Bar grows to around 100,000 members.More lawyers will hang out their own shingles, but Florida residents will find it harder to afford legal services and the need for pro bono work will rise. The Bar will have to help address these matters, and increasing the use of technology is likely to be one approach. Those are some of the findings of the recent Board Strategic Planning Committee’s annual workshop.The Bar Board of Governors, at its January 30 meeting in Tallahassee, ratified the Bar’s strategic plan for 2009-12. The goals remain the same as with the previous plan but, as Bar President-elect Jesse Diner reported, the ways of obtaining those objectives have dramatically changed.“Because of the economic conditions in this country, because of the economic conditions in Florida, because we perceive our lawyers will be severely affected by it. . . we really took a look at it in another way,” Diner told the board. “The economic conditions really changed our entire perspective.”The four goals of the plan remain unchanged: ensuring that the judicial system is fair, impartial, independent, and adequately funded; promoting the legal profession and improving the public perception of the judicial system; ensuring access to the courts and the availability of legal services; and enhancing and improving the value of Bar membership and improving the Bar’s relationship with its members.But there’s a sense that the goals have taken on more urgency and that there will be support for finding innovative ways to achieve them, Diner said.He added, “There’s going to be a lot of change and technology is going to be at the root of all of it.”As an example, Diner cited the Bar Journal directory issue. He said the Bar loses around $140,000 annually printing the directory and all of the information it contains is available online. Further, because of the lag time in publishing the directory, “By the time it’s printed, it’s out of date,” he said.Other potential changes include beefing up the Bar’s Web site to improve communications and services for Bar members, perhaps printing fewer issues of the Bar News, and a Supreme Court-requested review of Bar advertising rules.The Bar also may help lawyers retrain for new practice areas and to deal with new technologies that impact their practices, he said.Board member Ian Comisky noted that the Bar spends around $200,000 a year printing materials for CLE courses, and that expense can be reduced by posting the material online so attendees can download it electronically.“There is a lot about the way we do business that is going to have to change,” Diner replied. “With hard economic times comes opportunity.. . . There is an appetite for change because there is a necessity for change.”The strategic report contains extensive lists of goals, findings, problems, and issues facing the Bar and Florida lawyers. Those include:• With membership growing by 2,500 to 3,000 annually, the Bar’s current 85,000 membership will almost certainly grow to 95,000 to 100,000 in the next five years. Augmenting that trend is that more people tend to go to law school in poor economic times, plus an 11th law school is making plans to open in Florida.• The current severe recession will greatly impact the practice of law. “The status of the economy is already having a very strong effect on various different types of attorneys ( e.g. , transaction attorneys, real property attorneys, public defenders, state prosecutors, other government attorneys, and younger attorneys just out of law school) as well as the legal profession as a whole,” the report said. It also noted, “There are increased demands from clients and the marketplace for more value and efficiency, with additional increasing pressure regarding attorney rates and collections.”• Court efficiency has been reduced because of budget cuts made by the state, which overall has lost $12 billion in revenues in the past three years. In addition, inadequate judicial compensation may affect the quality of the judiciary.• One positive development is relations have improved with the executive and legislative branches of government and “there has been some compromise reached regarding a fair, impartial, and independent judiciary,” the report said.• Despite the increasing number of lawyers in Florida, the amount of pro bono provided has been flat or declining. In addition, the report said, “There is potential for pro bono to drop even more significantly over the next few years as more and more attorneys face difficult times.” That development comes as budget cuts have decreased legal services funding, and “it is becoming more difficult for the average citizen in Florida to be able to afford an attorney.”• While the Bar itself remains on good financial footing, it will face challenges. The report noted that the Clients’ Security Fund is underfunded and a large number of claims are anticipated soon, necessitating a review of that program. And while a membership dues increase has been considered it is “not likely at the moment due to the status of the economy.. . . If The Florida Bar leadership does not decide to apply a dues increase, priorities will need to be set as to how the Bar spends its money.”In addressing the four strategic plan goals, the report said progress had been made on ensuring an adequately funded judiciary that is fair and impartial. It specifically noted that the relationship with the Florida Legislature has improved and progress has been made on budget cuts to the third branch.“There may also be an opportunity to secure permanent, dedicated funding either through legislation or through a constitutional amendment,” the report said. It added that the challenge is too great for the court alone and the Bar must be actively involved in funding efforts.The report concluded on court financing, “This situation is much bigger than The Florida Bar. On a scale of 1 to 10, it is a 10 and the situation will continue to get worse unless some short-term and long-term solutions are developed.”On improving the public perception of the profession and the judiciary, the report noted that can be very difficult to measure and recommended limited resources be expended in this area. “The Bar should examine whether there are innovative, yet economical, technological ways to get the Bar’s message out to the public.”On access to courts and legal services, the report noted pro bono hours are unchanged or declining and there will be further pressure on those services because of the poor economy. In addition, The Florida Bar Foundation is seeing its revenues fall because of the economy.On enhancing the value of Bar membership and the Bar’s relationship with its members, the report noted increased use of the Bar’s Web site. It also said technology offers a way to improve services even more, concluding, “The 85,000 [Bar] members represent a critical resource. Because of the judicial funding crisis, coupled with the status of the economy, more members than ever before will rely on The Florida Bar for assistance.” A full copy of the strategic report is posted on the Bar’s Web site, www.floridabar.org.last_img read more

Rohit Sharma hits maiden Test double; SA 9/2 on day 2 in reply to India’s 497/9 declared

first_imgSHARE cricket × SHARE SHARE EMAIL COMMENT October 20, 2019 India’s Rohit Sharma plays a shot during 2nd day of the 3rd cricket test match against South Africa at JSCA Stadium in Ranchi   –  PTI sport Rohit Sharma once again provided unbridled joy with his maiden Test double hundred before India’s pacers dented an already scarred South Africa top-order to gain complete control in the third and final match here on Sunday.Revelling in his new avatar, the stylish Mumbaikar smashed his way to 212 off 258 balls in the company of vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane (115), as India declared their first innings at 497 for nine.Before bad light stopped play on the second day, South Africa were reduced to nine for two in five overs. Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav removed Dean Elgar (0) and Quinton de Kock (4) respectively in their single over bursts, creating all sorts of discomfort.The second day again belonged to Rohit, who scored his first double century in the longest format, having scored 176 and 127 in his ‘debut’ as Test opener in Visakhapatnam.His innings had 28 boundaries and six sixes but, more importantly, it was the languid grace that stood out. The extra second to play those square cuts and the pull shots were exactly what a sparse Sunday crowd needed to rejuvenate themselves.Batting on 199, the effortlessness with which he dispatched an express delivery from Lungi Ngidi into the mid-wicket stands with a front-foot pull, was worth a million dollars. His double hundred completed, Rohit, as if to taunt the pacer, repeated the shot and the result was same.Rahane, who has been back in form since the tour of the West Indies, also looked solid during his 11th Test hundred and the first in India in three years — the last coming against New Zealand (October, 2016) in Indore.The duo added 267 runs for the fourth wicket to set a solid platform before Ravindra Jadeja (51 off 119 balls) and Umesh Yadav (31 off 10 balls with five sixes) provided the final impetus.Rohit, who has already broken the world record for most number of sixes in a series, has so far amassed 529 runs to become only the fifth Indian opener to score 500-plus runs in a bilateral face-off.Gavaskar had achieved it five times in his Test career and Sehwag was the last Indian to achieve the feat, having scored 544 runs against Pakistan in a three-Test series at home in 2004-05.Rohit also joined Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Chris Gayle to notch 200-plus scores in both ODI and Test formats.The lack of penetration in the Proteas attack, save Kagiso Rabada (3/85 in 23 overs), has been the real problem for the visitors.In the three Tests so far, India have had three double centurions — Mayank Agarwal, skipper Virat Kohli and now Rohit — which tells the tale.While debutant left-arm spinner George Linde (4/133 in 31 overs) was the most successful bowler, Yadav took him to the cleaners, scoring all his sixes off his bowling.When South Africa batted under fading light, the Indian pacers were too hot to handle.Shami looked ominous, extracting extra bounce as he struck off the second ball. Elgar tried to remove his bat but the ball kissed the gloves en route to Wriddhiman Saha’s waiting hands.De Kock was done in by a brilliant bouncer, failing miserably in his attempt to evade as Saha timed his jump to perfection.Faf du Plessis and Zubayr Hamza survived the remaining three overs as debutant Shahbaz Nadeem bowled two tidy maidens under floodlights.With light deteriorating quickly in this part of the world, the Indian bowling attack would like to take advantage of the pitch on which cracks are beginning to open up, and the uneven bounce could only make life more difficult for the beleaguered South African batting line-up. India’s Rohit Sharma plays a shot during 2nd day of the 3rd cricket test match against South Africa at JSCA Stadium in Ranchi   –  PTI Indian Cricket Team Published on COMMENTSlast_img read more