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Chinese soldiers told to lose weight and shape up to project ‘first-class image’

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Mumbai :Half the battle is won once the enemy is already intimidated by your appearance.

This quote from an unknown source is perhaps what inspired Chinese officials to order country’s soldiers to lose weight and become fighting fit. The idea of getting into shape has as much to do with being a strong force in times of combat as it has with projecting – according to Chinese officials themselves – a ‘first-class image.’

According to a South China Morning Post report, President Xi Jinping recently signed the “PLA Common Regulations” which has a number of compulsory directives for troops. Of these, getting into shape has been given primary importance. The directive reportedly wants soldiers to be combat ready each day and instill an even higher level of self-discipline than what exists currently. Punishment for several cases of discipline violations has also been made more severe.

 

While getting fit and being at the peak of physical form is a demand almost every country makes of its soldiers, the PLA Common Regulations goes beyond and elaborates on minuscule aspects of human conduct. So, umbrellas have been banned unless it is raining or snowing and must be held only in the left hand, bracelets are a no-no and non-uniform gloves would invite severe penalty. Military uniforms are now permitted when attending personal events like weddings and award ceremonies to encourage public at large to respect the forces.

Several security analysts in China have welcomed the rules and compulsory directives. Some have been quoted as saying that these would ensure a positive public image while others have made comparisons to US troops and their fitness levels projected. A few also suggest that these showcase how closely Xi is monitoring his troops and the degree of control that he wishes to exercise.


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International

North Korea yet to take concrete steps to dismantle nukes: US

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WASHINGTON: US awaits concrete steps by North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons that threaten America and other countries in the region, Vice President Mike Pence has said.

Pence’s statement comes during his address to the global chief of mission conference on Wednesday and gains significance as the White House is preparing another summit between President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The two leaders have recently exchanged letters.

 

Kim and Trump held a historic meeting in Singapore on June 12 last year where they issued a vague goal for the “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean Peninsula without describing when and how it would occur.

Pence said that the US awaits North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons.

“While the president has started a promising dialogue with Chairman Kim, we still await concrete steps by North Korea to dismantle the nuclear weapons that threaten our people and our allies in the region,” Pence said.

In his address, Pence also said that Russia seeks to overturn the international order that the US has upheld for more than half a century.

“Unlike the Soviet Union and its many client states, no shared ideology or objective unites our competitors and adversaries except this one. They seek to overturn the international order that the US has upheld for more than half a century,” he said.

“Truthfully, it is a pact surrounding what they perceive to be a common enemy, but the truth is the US will rise to that challenge, we will stand with our allies and we will advance our values and our principles in the world,” Pence added.

Targeting Iran, Pence said that President Trump is standing up to the Iranian regime which is making the west Asian nation change its ways. “And as we stand today, Iran is now under unprecedented pressure to change its ways,” he said.

“The message that the disastrous nuclear deal benefited the very mullahs who oppressed their people. And even as we’ve striven mightily to protect our most important interests, we’ve also fought hard.

We’ve also fought hard not only to stand up to those who would challenge us but to advance American values on the world stage,” Pence said.

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Mice flown to space may help decode ageing: NASA

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Washington: Groups of mice sent aboard the International Space Station (ISS) may help better understand the process of ageing in space and on Earth, according to NASA. The investigation will provide space-flown samples to scientists from academia, industry and government agencies, who have agreed to share their data and results in an online database that is open to the public.

Rodent Research-8 (RR-8) will examine the physiology of ageing and the effect of age on disease progression using groups of young and old mice flown in space and kept on Earth, NASA said in a statement. “The objective is to expose the mice to microgravity and track physiological changes,” said Michael S Roberts, deputy chief scientist at the US National Laboratory, a sponsor of the investigation.

“Tissue samples from space-flown animals are extremely valuable to biomedical research and opportunities to use the space station are limited to a few missions each year,” Roberts said. “This investigation was conceived primarily to provide the biomedical research community on Earth with tissues from mice exposed to microgravity,” he said.

 

Previous research has shown that spending time in space causes bone density loss, immune dysfunction, cardiovascular issues such as stiffening of arteries, and loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength in both humans and rodent models. These changes resemble ageing in people age on Earth, but happen more quickly. That makes spaceflight an opportunity to study — and perhaps lessen — the effects of ageing.

The investigation will keep a group of young mice (10-16 weeks old) and another group of older mice (30-52 weeks old) on the space station for different periods of time — approximately 30 and 60 days — to make it possible to examine that accelerated ageing process more closely.

Researchers also plan to observe the activity levels of the different groups, expecting the younger mice to be more active than the older ones. Activity, or exercise, is known to affect the rate of bone and muscle loss in mice just as it does in humans.

The mice are all from a genetically identical strain. “We are trying to get down to the molecular basis for what is happening,” Roberts said.

“To use mice or other organisms as models for studying humans, we need to understand whether the effects of space exposure have the same causes and outcomes as conditions in humans on Earth,” he said.

“We want to see if the same things happen in mice and whether the rate of change is affected by the age of the mouse at exposure,” he added. Better understanding of changes to the body that occur in spaceflight can contribute to developing countermeasures and therapies that protect the health of astronauts and help people with age-related conditions and diseases on Earth.

While this investigation focuses on the effect of age on the changes induced by space, future investigations could compare males versus females or different genetic strains of mice, or the effects of varying their habitat on the space station.

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US eyes Taiwan risk as China’s military capabilities grow

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Washington: The United States is closely watching Chinese intentions toward Taiwan, concerned that Beijing’s growing military prowess may increase the risk it could one day consider bringing theself-ruled island under its control by force, a U.S. official said on Tuesday.

The senior US defense intelligence official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, did not predict that China’s military, known as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), would take such a step but said such a possibility was the top worry as China expands and modernizes its military capabilities.

“The biggest concern is that … they are getting to a point where the PLA leadership may actually tell Xi Jinping that they are confident in their capabilities,” the official said, referring to China’s president.

 

Pressed on whether the official was referring to Chinese confidence in its capabilities to be able to successfully win a battle with Taiwan, the official said, “Well, specifically that would be the most concerning to me.”

Taiwan is only one of a growing number of flashpoints in the US-China relationship, including a trade war between the countries, US sanctions on the Chinese military, and China’s increasingly muscular military posture in the South China Sea.

However, in meetings with Pentagon leaders, PLA officials have long described Taiwan as China’s most sensitive issue.

China has repeatedly sent military aircraft and ships to circle the island on drills in the past few years and worked to isolate the island internationally, whittling down its few remaining diplomatic allies.

It has also strongly objected to U.S. warship passages through the Taiwan Strait this year, and issued a terse warning about Taiwan after talks in Beijing on Tuesday with the U.S. Navy’s top officer, Admiral John Richardson.

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