New Russian nuclear submarine enters service

Updated 10 January 2013
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New Russian nuclear submarine enters service

MOSCOW: The Russian navy on Thursday hoisted its flag on a new nuclear powered submarine intended to form a key part of the country’s future nuclear deterrent.
The Yury Dolgoruky, which carries 16 Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles, is the first of a new series of Borei-class submarines that will replace older Soviet-built ships. Another submarine of the same type is currently undergoing sea trials and two others are now under construction.
President Vladimir Putin congratulated the Yuri Dolgoruky’s crew during a conference call Thursday, hailing the ship as a “powerful weapon that will guarantee our security.”
“Submarines of that class will become an important element of sea-based strategic forces, a guarantor of global balance and security of Russia and its allies,” Putin said.
Commissioning of the new submarines is part of an ambitious arms modernization program that envisages spending over 20 trillion rubles ($657 billion) on new weapons through 2020.
Putin said Thursday that 4 trillion rubles ($132 billion) of that money will be spent on commissioning the new submarines and other navy ships. “Modernization of the navy is one of the most important priorities in our work to strengthen the armed forces,” he said.
Putin said the navy will commission the total of eight Borei-class ICBM nuclear submarines and eight nuclear submarines of a different Yasen class intended to hunt for enemy ships.
The Yuri Dolgoruky’s construction started in 1995 but was slowed down by a post-Soviet economic meltdown and it wasn’t until 2009 when it finally entered sea trials. The submarine’s commissioning was delayed further by problems with the new Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile intended to arm it.
The Bulava experienced a string of failures during tests that dragged on for years, raising doubts about the future of the most expensive military project in Russia’s post-Soviet history. Recent tests, however, have been successful, allowing the navy to finally commission the submarine.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who attended the commissioning of the new submarine at a shipyard in Severodvinsk, said that the Bulava is fully combat ready.
Facing questions about Bulava, Putin’s chief of staff Sergei Ivanov also insisted that “the navy has no reason to doubt its reliability.”
A hawkish Russian Cabinet member marked the ceremony with a tongue-in-cheek comment mimicking the Cold War-era diatribes of Soviet leaders. “You bourgeoisie tremble! You are screwed!” Dmitry Rogozin, deputy prime minister in charge of military industries, wrote on Twitter.
Rogozin, a nationalist politician in the past, has been known for his bellicose and sometimes crude statements.


Trump’s travel ban faces US Supreme Court showdown

Updated 22 April 2018
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Trump’s travel ban faces US Supreme Court showdown

  • The high court has never decided the legal merits of the travel ban.
  • The challengers have argued the policy was motivated by Trump’s enmity toward Muslims.

WASHINGTON: The first big showdown at the US Supreme Court over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies is set for Wednesday when the justices hear a challenge to the lawfulness of his travel ban targeting people from several Muslim-majority countries.
The case represents a test of the limits of presidential power. Trump’s policy, announced in September, blocks entry into the US of most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Chad previously was on the list but Trump lifted those restrictions on April 10.
The high court has never decided the legal merits of the travel ban or any other major Trump immigration policy, including his move to rescind protections for young immigrants sometimes called Dreamers brought into the US illegally as children. It has previously acted on Trump requests to undo lower court orders blocking those two policies, siding with him on the travel ban and opposing him on the Dreamers. Trump’s immigration policies — also including actions taken against states and cities that protect illegal immigrants, intensified deportation efforts and limits on legal immigration — have been among his most contentious. 
The conservative-majority Supreme Court is due to hear arguments on Wednesday on the third version of a travel ban policy Trump first sought to implement a week after taking office in January 2017, and issue a ruling by the end of June. 
The lead challenger is the state of Hawaii, which argues the ban violates federal immigration law and the US Constitution’s prohibition on the government favoring one religion over another.
“Right now, the travel ban is keeping families apart. It is degrading our values by subjecting a specific set of people to be denigrated and marginalized,” Hawaii Lt. Governor Doug Chin said in an interview.
The Supreme Court on Dec. 4 signaled it may lean toward backing Trump when it granted the administration’s request to let the ban go into full effect while legal challenges played out.
In another immigration-related case, the justices on April 17 invalidated a provision in a US law requiring deportation of immigrants convicted of certain crimes of violence. Trump’s administration and the prior Obama administration had defended the provision.
'Politically correct'
Trump has said the travel ban is needed to protect the US from terrorism by militants. Just before the latest ban was announced, Trump wrote on Twitter that the restrictions “should be far larger, tougher and more specific — but stupidly that would not be politically correct!“
The challengers have argued the policy was motivated by Trump’s enmity toward Muslims, pressing that point in lower courts with some success by citing statements he made as a candidate and as president. As a candidate, Trump promised “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
The Justice Department argues Trump’s statements as a candidate carry no weight because he was not yet president. The policy’s challengers also point to views he has expressed as president, including his retweets in November of anti-Muslim videos posted by a far-right British political figure.
In a court filing last week, US Solicitor General Noel Francisco, representing Trump in court, said those retweets “do not address the meaning” of the travel ban policy.
Francisco cited Trump statements complimentary toward Muslims and Islam, including in a May 2017 speech in Saudi Arabia.
In defending the ban, the administration has pointed to a waiver provision allowing people from targeted countries to seek entry if they meet certain criteria. The State Department said that as of last month 375 waivers to the travel ban had been granted since the policy went into effect on Dec 8.