China’s moon landing proves it is more than just a paper dragon | Larry Elliott

As Donald Trump and Xi Jinping prepare to meet over the tariff war, both sides need a solution

For the US it was a wake-up call. Convinced that it was a world leader in the knowledge economy, the US was shaken out of its complacency when its communist rival announced a breakthrough in space exploration.

More than six decades separates the launch in 1957 by the Soviet Union of Sputnik – the first artificial satellite – and China’s success last week in being the first country to land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon, but the same question is posed by the two events: is US economic hegemony at risk?

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Mass Exodus: More People Left New Jersey Than Any Other State In 2018

Over the last four decades, United Van Lines has published its National Movers Study, which tracks customers’ state-to-state migration trends over the past year, revealed a mass exodus of residents from New Jersey than any other state in 2018.

Last year, New Jersey displaced Illinois to take the top spot on the list of most-moved from states. According to the study, 66.8% of New Jersey’s moves in 2018 were outbound, the highest rate across the country.

Illinois (65.9%), Connecticut (62%), New York (61.5%), and Kansas (58.7%) were included on the top five most moved-from states.

Among age demographics, New Jersey had a great year in attracting millennials, the state saw 7.97% more moves to the state than moves away. However, baby boomers were leaving the state 10% more often than arrived. 

Americans Are On The Move, But Where Are They Move To And From?

Some of the reasons for moving out of  New Jersey, according to the National Movers Study, were new jobs (34.73%), retirement (34.51%), and family (20.44%), followed by lifestyle (17.36%) and by health (6.15%).

More than two-thirds of the people who moved to New Jersey in 2018 (61.84%) arrived because of new employment 

“As the nation’s largest household goods mover, our study allows us to identify the most and least popular states for residential relocation throughout the country, year after year,” said Eily Cummings, director of corporate communications at United Van Lines. “These findings accurately reflect not only where Americans are moving to and from, but also the reasons why.”

Meanwhile, Ohio, Massachusetts, Iowa, Montana, and Michigan were bumped off the list of the most-moved from states.

Vermont, whose population is the second-smallest in the country, was the only state in the Northeast to see improved inbound migrations.

Four Western states were on the top five moved to list — Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona.

The Carolinas, Washington, South Dakota and the District of Columbia were very close in making the top inbound list.

“The data collected by United Van Lines aligns with longer-term migration patterns to southern and western states, trends driven by factors like job growth, lower costs of living, state budgetary challenges and more temperate climates,” said Michael Stoll, economist and professor in the Department of Public Policy at UCLA.

“Unlike a few decades ago, retirees are leaving California, instead choosing other states in the Pacific West and Mountain West. We’re also seeing young professionals migrating to vibrant, metropolitan economies, like Washington, DC, and Seattle,” Stoll said. 

The study coincides with a 2017 report that New Jersey lost population for the first time in a decade. With a historically low birth rate and population growth that is stalling, New Jersey could find itself in economic trouble and the loss of Congressional seats in the coming years. 

US Military Will Test-Fire Next Gen Rifle Prototypes This Summer

For several decades, small arms advocates have urged the Pentagon for a replacement to the standard M16/M4 service weapon and the squad level light machine gun carried by most soldiers, Marines and special forces. Now, prototypes of these new super weapons are expected to be on the firing line in summer 2019.

Multiple Armed Forces intend on fielding the Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle (NGSAR), the first version of the Army’s Next-Generation Weapons System that chambers a round between 6.5mm and 6.8mm, as a replacement of its aging M16/M4 and M249 SAWs starting in 2022, Col. Geoffrey A. Norman, force development division chief at Army HQ, told Task & Purpose in early 2018.

Textron/AAI Next-Generation Weapon 
Textron/AAI Next-Generation Weapon information 

The new weapons will be transferred to close combat Army, Marine, and special operations forces in the early 2020s.

Before the selection of prototypes, government officials asked industry leaders to develop a round that would shoot further, more accurate, and penetrate the world’s most advanced body armor somewhere between 5.56mm and 7.62mm, the current standard NATO rounds.

In October, the Army selected the 6.8mm, next-generation round as the official requirements for the system. The NGSAR will weigh less, shoot farther, and pack more punch than the service’s existing infantry weapons, Norman told Task & Purpose. And more importantly, the platform will incorporate a chamber pressure superior to the current system in soldiers’ arsenals to ensure that the rounds can still penetrate enhanced enemy body armor at up to 600 meters.

“The chamber pressure for the standard assault rifle is around 45 KSI [kilopound per square inch], but we’re looking for between 60 and 80 KSI … the chamber pressure when an M1 Abrams tank fires is on that order,” Norman told Task & Purpose. “We’re looking to reach out around 600 meters and have lethal effects even if the target is protected by body armor.”

Last summer, the Army selected five companies to provide NGSAR prototypes that will be tested in the second half of 2019. 

Those companies are:

  • AAI Corporation Textron Systems
  • FN America LLC
  • General Dynamics-OTS Inc.
  • PCP Tactical, LLC.
  • Sig Sauer Inc.

The reason for the new weapons, according to Norman, is the Pentagon’s current shift from urban warfare in Iraq and Syria to the mountains and open terrain of Afghanistan. While the standard rifles may be well-suited for close combat in cities like Mosul and Raqqa, it lacks the range to kill adversaries in open stretches.

“For the past 10 or 15 years, we’ve been really focused on the requirement of lethal effects against unprotected targets,” Norman said. “Now we’re looking at near-peer threats like Russia and others. We need to have lethal effects against protected targets and we need to have requirements for long-range lethality in places like Afghanistan, where you’re fighting from mountaintop to mountaintop over extended ranges.”

Once the NGSAR is selected, the Army intends to make follow-on production awards for “250,000 total weapons system(s) (NGSW-R, NGSW-AR, or both), 150,000,000 rounds of ammunition, spare parts, tools/gauges/accessories, and engineering support.”

The awards could be worth $10 million the first year and $150 million per year at the higher production rates.

The bottom line is that long-awaited replacement to the standard service rifle is almost here. The Pentagon is in the last stretch of testing and by the end of 2019, could select one of the five companies above to produce the new weapon. This is all happening as the world has moved into a new and unsettling geopolitical phase.