Obama administration officials on Tuesday defended plans to overhaul the U.S. nuclear arsenal and modernize the B-61 nuclear warhead, according to Reuters.
Madelyn Creedon, assistant secretary of Defense for global strategic affairs, told a House Armed Services Committee subpanel the aging atomic weapons must be modernized so that policy-setters will back the administration’s plans to cut the size of the overall nuclear stockpile. In particular, the over-budget and behind-schedule effort to refurbish the U.S. arsenal of B-61 gravity bombs — roughly 200 of which are fielded at overseas bases — must continue, she told the Strategic Forces subcommittee.
“There are some who believe that there is a less expensive alternative … that was never considered, but I can assure you that each and every modernization design proposal available was presented to the Nuclear Weapons Council (NWC) during its decision process,” Creedon said in prepared remarks. “Only after rigorous and thorough evaluation of each possibility did the Council unanimously conclude that the [planned B-61 program] … was the least expensive long-term option that could meet military requirements.”
Estimates for the cost of the B-61 life-extension program range from the National Nuclear Security Administration’s figure of $8.2 billion to the Defense Department’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation calculation of $10.4 billion.
Kingston Reif, an analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, said it would be unwise to make such an investment when defense budgets are tight.
“That program is unaffordable, unrealistic and unnecessary because there are cheaper alternatives to extend the life of the weapon,” he said in an interview with Reuters.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."