World to reckon with future of fossil fuels at COP28 climate summit


World to reckon with future of fossil fuels at COP28 climate summit

Valerie Volcovici, Kate Abnett and Maha El Dahan – November 29, 2023

FILE PHOTO: Climate activists denounce fossil fuel companies near the Eiffel Tower in Paris
Climate activists denounce fossil fuel companies near the Eiffel Tower in Paris
FILE PHOTO: 'Cop28 UAE' logo is displayed on the screen during the opening ceremony of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) under the theme of 'United on Climate Action Toward COP28', in Abu Dhabi
‘Cop28 UAE’ logo is displayed on the screen during the opening ceremony of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) under the theme of ‘United on Climate Action Toward COP28’, in Abu Dhabi

WASHINGTON/BRUSSELS/DUBAI (Reuters) -Delegates from nearly 200 countries will convene this week for the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, where conference host and OPEC member the UAE hopes to sell the vision of a low-carbon future that includes, not shuns, fossil fuels.

That narrative, also backed by other big oil producer nations, will reveal international divisions at the summit over how to combat global warming.

Countries are split over whether to prioritise phasing out coal and oil and gas, or scaling up technologies such as carbon capture to try to diminish their climate impact.

The annual United Nations summit from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12 takes place as the world is poised to shatter another record for the hottest year in 2023, and as reports confirm countries’ climate pledges are not enough to avert the worst impacts of global warming.

Among the decisions nations must make in the gleaming, high-tech city of Dubai will be whether to agree, for the first time, to gradually “phase out” global consumption of fossil fuels and replace them with sources including solar and wind.

The International Energy Agency, the West’s energy watchdog, issued a report ahead of the conference defining its position.

It called the idea of widespread carbon capture, to contain emissions from burning fossil fuels, an illusion and said the fossil fuel industry must decide between deepening the climate crisis or shifting to clean energy.

In response, OPEC accused the IEA of vilifying oil producers.

Greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels are the biggest cause of climate change.


The arguments for and against continued use of fossil fuel have focused on COP’s incoming president Sultan al-Jaber.

His position as CEO of the UAE’s national oil company ADNOC has raised concerns among campaigners, some U.S. Congress members and EU lawmakers over whether he can be an impartial broker of a climate deal.

Jaber has vehemently denied a report from the BBC and the Centre for Climate Reporting (CCR) that he planned to discuss potential gas and other commercial deals with over a dozen governments ahead of the summit.

“These allegations are false, not true, incorrect, are not accurate. And it’s an attempt to undermine the work of the COP28 presidency,” Jaber told a news conference on Wednesday.

Jaber has said the phase-down of fossil fuels is “inevitable”, but also that the industry needs to be included in the debate of finding climate solutions and presented himself as ideally placed to mediate.

Climate campaigners are not reassured.

“We have a world which has more fossil fuels than ever,” said Ani Dasgupta, president of the World Resources Institute, a climate NGO. “What we should be looking for is a commitment to actually reduce fossil fuels.”

Jaber says he has been rallying support from companies for COP28 pledges aimed at reducing emissions from oil and gas operations.

Many representatives of the industry will be present in Dubai as this year’s gathering of 70,000 registered attendees takes on the character of trade show.

Organisers say the record attendance will include the biggest business participation for any U.N. climate summit yet.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Britain’s King Charles are also set to attend, although U.S. President Joe Biden will not.


Away from the high-profile visitors, a major task for the country delegations at COP28 will be to assess how far off track the world is from a goal set in Paris in 2015 to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), while aiming for a cap of 1.5C.

This process, known as the global stocktake, should yield a high-level plan telling countries what they need to do.

Governments will then have to turn that global plan into national policies and targets to submit to the U.N. in 2025.

Leading up to the conference, the European Union, U.S. and UAE have rallied support for a deal to triple global renewable energy installed by 2030. Over 100 countries have backed this deal, officials told Reuters, but countries including China and India have not.

U.S. officials and others are hopeful a climate deal agreed earlier this month between the world’s biggest emitters China and the U.S. may also set a positive tone for the talks.

The two countries agreed to boost renewable energy and “accelerate the substitution for coal, oil and gas generation”.


Another task for the conference is to launch the world’s first climate damage fund to help countries that have already suffered irreparable damage from climate change impacts, such as drought, floods and rising sea levels.

Representatives from developed and developing countries have struck a tentative agreement on its design, but all countries at COP28 need to approve it for it to lead to a final deal.

Gayane Gabrielyan, Armenia’s negotiator on the fund, told Reuters it is crucial the “loss and damage” fund agreement is approved now, ahead of elections next year in countries, such as the U.S. that could shatter the political consensus.

Another test is whether wealthy nations announce hundreds of millions of dollars needed to launch the fund at COP28. The European Union and the U.S. have already said they will contribute and are pressuring countries like China and the UAE to follow.

“Speaking from previous experience, unfortunately most of the global agreements, most of the global climate related pledges went uncompleted,” said Najib Ahmed, National Consultant at Somalia’s Climate Ministry.

“But again, we cannot lose hope.”

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici and Kate Abnett; Editing by Josie Kao and Barbara Lewis)

For Many Kids, a Boost to Summer School Meals Is a ‘Game Changer’

Civil Eats

For Many Kids, a Boost to Summer School Meals Is a ‘Game Changer’

Last year’s omnibus bill cut SNAP benefits but increased funding for summer meals. For many districts, it’s helping address a hunger gap. 

By Anne Marshall – Chalmers – July 5, 2023

Tyden Brownlee, 5, picks up a free school lunch at Olympic Hills Elementary School in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Tyden Brownlee, 5, picks up a free school lunch at Olympic Hills Elementary School in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)


States Are Fighting to Bring Back Free School Meals

The Pandemic Reveals Racial Gaps in School Meal Access

What’s Next for Healthier School Meals? We Asked the USDA.

In the northeast corner of Indiana, soybean and corn fields stretch across the landscape, separating the schools of the East Noble School Corporation by as much as 20 miles. Last summer, when interim food service director Roger Urick geared up to offer summer meals to the district’s 3,400 students, pandemic-era waivers allowing him to offer to-go meals to families had expired, forcing him to go back to the old model.

Instead of being able to offer take-away meals at several locations in the area, Urick was required to serve meals at two designated locations where kids had to come in and eat their meals on site. (In the school nutrition world, this is known as a “congregate” setting.)

Participation dropped to half of what it had been the two summers prior. “We found it was difficult for parents and kids to come to our two buildings and eat on site,” says Urick.

Before the pandemic, an estimated 6 out of 7 kids who qualified for free or reduced lunch could not access food in the summer largely due to the mandate that it be eaten on site, a problem that’s particularly acute in rural regions.

“We have known for a very long time that structural, fundamental changes were needed in the summer meals program because of barriers like transportation to meal sites,” says Carolyn Vega, associate director of policy at Share Our Strength, the nonprofit whose No Kid Hungry campaign focuses on access to summer meals. “School buses aren’t running over the summer. A lot of summer meals would be (served) outside, but there can be extreme heat or rain.”

Early in the pandemic, though, congregate anything was forbidden and restrictions around summer feeding were stripped away. Families were allowed to pick up several days’ worth of meals in the summer or even have them delivered. As a result, the number of summer meals served nationwide in July 2020 was nearly triple the number served in July 2019, according to No Kid Hungry.

In December 2022, as part of the end-of-year $1.7 trillion budget bill, Congress approved $29 billion in meal programs for low-income kids, and permanently loosened the rules around congregate feeding during the summer—a win for child nutrition advocates. But it came with a cost, as Democrats agreed to end pandemic-era SNAP “emergency allotments” a few months early. (The end to those allotments has left millions of Americans with slashed benefits.)

“We would have liked to see those allotments continue,” says Clarissa Hayes, the deputy director of school and out-of-school time programs for the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). “We never like to see one program cut to prop up another program.”

The boost in school meal funding will pay for two major changes. Starting this summer, families in rural areas will once again be allowed to pick up meals or have them delivered, if districts and community groups are available to do so. This “non-congregate” option is expected to benefit up to 8 million children living in rural areas, according to a USDA spokesperson. And come next summer, families of children who qualify for free and reduced meals at school will receive a $40 monthly grocery stipend when school is out, creating permanent summer assistance.

These two changes will “work together to end summer hunger and fill that gap that many families face,” says Hayes.

Long Overdue Option

The history of summer food service dates to the late 1960s, when the federal government provided grants to states to offer meals over break. Decades later, summer feeding programs have greatly expanded and are entrenched in many low-income and rural communities.

School districts participate in the Seamless Summer Option (SSO), which provides reimbursement for all meals delivered to kids under the age of 18. All children eat free in communities where at least 50 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), meanwhile, offers reimbursement to summer enrichment programs (such as camps and religious organizations) that offer meals in low-income areas.

Over the last few months, after the USDA greenlit “non-congregate” meal services in rural areas, most states opted to participate, and school districts, along with community groups that provide summer meals, have been busy submitting plans to whichever state agency oversees SFSP or SSO.

Vega, at Share Our Strength, says offering more flexible feeding options in rural areas is long overdue. “There aren’t a lot of community locations that [rural] kids can regularly and easily get to during the summer, much less twice a day for breakfast and lunch,” she says. “This is the level of service our rural communities have needed all along.”

In Indiana’s Noble County, where about half of the student population is eligible for free and reduced lunch, Urick says he’s “excited” to once again offer a service that should help ensure that more kids get access to meals after last year’s low participation rates.

The summer, families are able to pick up meals at seven different sites in the area, including a public library and two public housing apartment complexes. When Urick announced the change to the community, he says he was “overwhelmed” by grateful emails and calls. Though many school kitchens face staffing shortages, Urick has had no problem finding workers eager to earn some summer money preparing and delivering meals. But not all rural districts are that fortunate.

Becky Woodman, cafeteria operations manager at the Klamath-Trinity Joint Unified School District in Northern California, says she’s not participating in a grab-and-go or delivery option for summer feeding largely due to staffing. “We’re just not in a position to do that,” she says. “All of our cafeteria staff are 10-month employees.”

During the height of the pandemic, Woodman says, meal delivery to families was a huge challenge. The furthest delivery site was an 80-minute drive down a one-lane road. During the school year, she was able to lean on bus drivers and other district employees to help. “It took a lot of people working really hard and being creative and making things work,” she recalls. Over the summers of 2020 and 2021, though, that meal delivery service paused.

This summer, she has hired two people to serve breakfast, lunch, snacks, and supper at an elementary school located on the Hoopa Valley Reservation, where the majority of the district’s roughly 1,000 students live. The meals are included in a month-long summer school that typically only attracts about 70 students. She expects “100 percent” of those students will take advantage of the meals. And in a district in which nearly 68 percent of kids qualify for free and reduced lunch, she says many in the community will likely turn to nonprofits and other outreach programs during the summer for help with groceries and meals.

The Supreme Court has narrowed the scope of the Clean Water Act


The Supreme Court has narrowed the scope of the Clean Water Act

Nina Totenberg, Heard on All Things Considered – May 25, 2023

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen on May 16.Alex Brandon/AP

The U.S. Supreme Court Court on Thursday significantly curtailed the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate the nation’s wetlands and waterways. It was the court’s second decision in a year limiting the ability of the agency to enact anti-pollution regulations and combat climate change.

The challenge to the regulations was brought by Michael and Chantell Sackett, who bought property to build their dream house about 500 feet away from Idaho’s Scenic Priest Lake, a 19-mile stretch of clear water that is fed by mountain streams and bordered by state and national parkland. Three days after the Sacketts started excavating their property, the EPA stopped work on the project because the couple had failed to get a permit for disturbing the wetlands on their land.

Now a conservative Supreme Court majority has used the Sacketts’ case to roll back longstanding rules adopted to carry out the 51-year-old Clean Water Act.

While the nine justices agreed that the Sacketts should prevail, they divided 5-to-4 as to how far to go in limiting the EPA’s authority.Sponsor Message

Narrowing the scope of the law

Writing for the court majority, Justice Samuel Alito said that the navigable waters of the United States regulated by the EPA under the statute do not include many previously regulated wetlands. Rather, he said, the CWA extends to only streams, oceans, rivers and lakes, and those wetlands with a “continuous surface connection to those bodies.”

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, joined by the court’s three liberal members, disputed Alito’s reading of the statute, noting that since 1977 when the CWA was amended to include adjacent wetlands, eight consecutive presidential administrations, Republican and Democratic, have interpreted the law to cover wetlands that the court has now excluded. Kavanaugh said that by narrowing the act to cover only adjoining wetlands, the court’s new test will have quote “significant repercussions for water quality and flood control throughout the United States.”

In addition to joining Kavanaugh’s opinion, the court’s liberals signed on to a separate opinion by Justice Elena Kagan. Pointing to the air and water pollution cases, she accused the majority of appointing itself instead of Congress as the national policymaker on the environment.

Reaction to the opinion

President Biden, in a statement, called the decision “disappointing.”

It “upends the legal framework that has protected America’s waters for decades,” he said. “It also defies the science that confirms the critical role of wetlands in safeguarding our nation’s streams, rivers, and lakes from chemicals and pollutants that harm the health and wellbeing of children, families, and communities.”Sponsor Message

Two former EPA chiefs saw Thursday’s decision as a major setback for the nation’s environment, and its future in combating the effects of climate change. William K. Reilly, who served as EPA administrator in the George H.W. Bush administration, said that while he understands the economic objections of farmers and builders to many wetland regulations, the Supreme Court’s decision is “too broad” and will only limit further the already disappearing wetlands that protect many parts of the country from flooding and drought.

Carol Browner, who served as EPA administrator in the Obama administration, echoed those sentiments, calling the decision “a major blow to the landmark Clean Water Act and the federal government’s ability to protect our people from pollution and its negative health side effects.”

The decision also dismayed environmental groups.

“I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say it’s catastrophic for the Clean Water act,” said Jim Murphy of the National Wildlife Federation. Wetlands play an “enormous role in protecting the nation’s water,” he said. “They’re really the kidneys of water systems and they’re also the sponges. They absorb a lot of water on the landscape. So they’re very important water features and they’re very important to the quality of the water that we drink, swim, fish, boat and recreate in.”

As in last year’s case limiting the EPA’s ability to regulate air pollution from power plants, the decision was a major victory for the groups that supported the Sacketts — mining, oil, utilities and, in today’s case, agricultural and real estate interests as well.

Can lawmakers save the collapsing Florida home insurance market?


Can lawmakers save the collapsing Florida home insurance market?

Cate Deventer – April 24, 2023

Hurricane Ian could be ‘one of the most severe loss events in U.S. history’: Insurance expert

Insurance Information Institute Director Mark Friedlander joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the fraud and over-litigation in Florida’s insurance markets, the losses expected from Hurricane Ian, and insurance reform legislation.

The Florida home insurance market has spent most of 2022 tumbling toward collapse, but recent legislation just might avert disaster. Bankrate dug deep into the Florida insurance industry to discover the cause of the problem and to report on the proposed solutions. We can help you understand why the Florida home insurance crisis is happening and your options if you receive a cancellation or nonrenewal notice on your homeowners insurance policy.

Lightbulb Key insights Governor Ron DeSantis signed a second insurance reform bill into law on December 16, 2022. Combined with earlier legislation, these new regulations may stabilize the spasming home insurance market.

Florida accounts for only 9 percent of the country’s home insurance claims but 79 percent of its home insurance lawsuits, many of them fraudulent.
Because of the fraudulent lawsuits and the high overall claim risk in Florida, insurance companies have faced two consecutive years with net underwriting losses over $1 billion.
The devastating damage from Hurricane Ian will likely put further strain on Florida insurers and could worsen the crisis.

The crisis in the Florida insurance market

Florida has always been a complex home insurance market, but recent issues are pushing the state’s market to the point of collapse. Since 2017, six property and casualty companies that offered homeowners insurance in Florida liquidated. Five more are in the liquidation process in 2022. Other insurance companies are voluntarily leaving the state. Even more are choosing to nonrenew swaths of home insurance policies, drastically tighten their policy eligibility requirements or request substantial rate increases.

For Florida homeowners, this is resulting in fewer home insurance companies and increased premiums. When a company goes insolvent, the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) takes on any claims that still need to be paid by that company. In late August, FIGA’s board and the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) approved a .7 percent assessment to help cover the costs of open claims associated with the liquidated companies. That’s the second assessment this year, with a 1.3 percent assessment approved in March. Homeowners will pay these fees regardless of the insurance company they are with.

According to Logan McFaddin, Vice President of State Government Relations at the American Property Casualty Insurance Association,

Florida’s property insurance market is in crisis as insurers grapple with out-of-control litigation costs and billions in losses from recent natural disasters.

Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate (ICA) Tasha Carter agrees, saying, “Homeowners insurance options in Florida have become more and more limited, and consumers are facing dire consequences.”

Why are home insurance companies leaving Florida?

Florida insurers are canceling policies, leaving the state or liquidating at a rapid pace. Why? What is behind these companies’ aversion to insuring Florida homes?

Florida has always presented a risky market to home insurance companies due to the high threat of widespread weather-related damage, but the current crisis is caused by a number of factors reaching a boiling point at the same time.

Insurance fraud in Florida

The biggest issue right now in Florida is home insurance fraud, driven by fraudulent roofing claims. A proclamation from the office of Governor Ron DeSantis notes that, although Florida only accounts for 9 percent of the country’s home insurance claims, it is home to 79 percent of the country’s home insurance lawsuits. Many of these lawsuits are fraudulent. ICA Carter explains how the scams generally work:

  1. First, roofers canvas neighborhoods and offer inspections to unsuspecting homeowners. These contractors inevitably “find damage” on the roof and often promise a “free roof” to the homeowner, claiming they can have the home insurance deductible waived.
  2. Homeowners are pressured to sign an assignment of benefits form, giving contractors the right to file an insurance claim on their behalf.
  3. claims adjuster from the insurance company inspects the alleged damage. The adjuster either finds no damage or far more minimal damage than the contractor found, and the claim payout is less than what the contractor demanded.
  4. The contractor brings legal action against the insurance company, demanding a claim payout for the contractor’s original quote. Remember, the homeowner signed the benefits of the policy to the contractor, so the contractor doesn’t need the homeowner’s permission to do this.
  5. The insurance company now has a choice: it can pay the legal costs to fight the lawsuit or pay the costs to settle out of court. Either way, the insurance company loses money due to the legal action.

ICA Carter notes that “these schemes are real and are happening more frequently,” which puts more and more financial pressure on insurance companies, especially in a state with high claims costs due to weather-related events.

According to Mark Friedlander, Director of Corporate Communications at the Insurance Information Institute, “Florida property insurers are projected to post a cumulative underwriting loss of $1.7 billion for 2021” due to these runaway litigation costs. The governor’s office reports that, for two consecutive years, net underwriting losses have exceeded $1 billion. It’s no wonder that so many companies are going insolvent or leaving the state before they reach that point.

On top of that, Florida also previously had a “one-way attorney fee” system. This meant that, when a court ruled in favor of the plaintiff (in this case, a home insurance policyholder or the third-party contractor who filed the claim), the defendant (in this case, the insurance company) was responsible for paying the plaintiff’s attorney fees. So not only were insurers paying for fraudulent lawsuits, they were also paying for the fraudster’s legal costs. Friedlander notes that the insurance reform bill passed in December 2022 “addresses the two root causes of Florida’s residential insurance crisis — litigation abuse and assignment of benefits (AOB) abuse…Eliminating both is necessary to slow down the mass volume of lawsuits being filed against Florida insurers.” Going forward, assignment of benefits forms are banned for home insurance losses and Florida will no longer operate a one-way attorney fee system.

Roof age

Instead of leaving altogether, some companies are tightening their underwriting restrictions to lessen the risk of these scams. This may be the reason why several companies — including Southern Fidelity, Progressive and Universal — have chosen to continue operations in Florida but have nonrenewed tens of thousands of policies.

However, companies are now prohibited from denying coverage solely based on roof age if the roof is fewer than 15 years old and has a life expectancy of five years at the time the policy is issued. That said, insurers will have to decide if they are comfortable with these restrictions or if they will continue leaving Florida.

Storm risk

Risk will always be a consideration for home insurance companies in Florida. The state’s shape and geographic location mean that it could get hit from either side by a hurricane. Because the peninsula is so thin, even homes in the interior counties aren’t entirely protected.

To make matters worse, fraudulent claims may be more common after severe storms — and storms are not uncommon in the state. Hurricane Ian made landfall on September 28 as a powerful Category 4 storm, causing widespread damage. The damage and financial fallout could push the already-teetering home insurance market into collapse due to increased home repair expenses, including the potential of fraudulent roof claims.

However, although the risk of hurricane damage complicates things, it isn’t what’s driving the market to the brink of collapse. After all, other risky states don’t have this problem. A high likelihood of damage generally means paying a higher premium to offset that risk, but coverage is usually still available. Oklahoma, for example, has the highest average cost of home insurance in the nation at $3,593 per year for $250K dwelling coverage due to the likelihood of tornado damage, but homeowners in the state don’t face the same difficulty finding coverage that Floridians do.

Is anything being done to curb the crisis?

Yes, although the full effects of the measures have yet to be seen. Senate Bill 76 went into effect in July 2021 and included several provisions to curb fraudulent claims causing insurers so much strain. One such provision is aimed at reducing the solicitation tactics that fraudulent contractors often use at the start of a scam. While this legal measure may help solve the problem, Sean Harper, CEO of Kin Insurance, warns that “there will need to be additional action taken to restore the market to health.”

Florida lawmakers met for a special session from May 23 through May 27. The Legislature passed an insurance reform bill that includes several provisions to help slow the spiral of the market. The provisions included setting up the My Safe Florida Home Program, which provides grants to help Florida homeowners strengthen their homes against damage. Additionally, home insurance companies will not be able to deny coverage for homes solely based on roof age if a roof is less than 15 years old and still has five years of useful life left (older roofs may still be denied as they present a high risk of damage). Finally, lawyers will be restricted in the rates they can charge for property insurance claims cases, hopefully discouraging fraudulent lawsuits and decreasing litigation costs.

Update: December Special Session yields promising reform legislation

Additional legislation was signed into law on December 16, 2022. Senate Bill 2-A. The bill has numerous provisions but focuses on one-way attorney fees and the assignment of benefits scam. Friedlander told Bankrate:

“This is the strongest insurance reform package we have ever seen passed in Florida. It shows Florida’s new legislative leaders understand the enormity of the state’s property insurance crisis and are initiating decisive actions to create a path toward stability of the market.”

Doing away with one-way attorney fees and assignment of benefit forms could potentially remove massive financial pressure from insurance companies and reduce the number of fraudulent lawsuits. The combination of actions included in Senate Bill 2-A will hopefully buoy the rapidly-sinking insurers in the Florida market.

However, Friedlander notes that change won’t happen overnight: “…it will take time to see positive impacts of the legislative reform. We expect home insurance rates in Florida to remain high in 2023 due to expenses associated with ongoing litigation, combined with soaring reinsurance rates and double-digit replacement cost increases driven by escalating prices of construction materials and labor.”

In other words, relief may be coming, but it’ll likely take some time for homeowners and insurers to feel it.

Demotech responds to potential rating downgrades

Because many home insurance companies have been hit hard by the rampant and fraudulent litigation, they may no longer be as financially stable as they were. In late July 2022, financial strength rating company Demotech announced it was considering downgrading the financial strength ratings of 27 property insurance companies.

The situation is complex. While these carriers may no longer have the financial strength they used to, downgrading also causes issues. Downgrading financial ratings impacts homeowners with federally-backed mortgages — those from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — because these lenders require home insurance companies with Demotech ratings to maintain at least an ‘A’ level. Demotech has not released the names of the companies it is considering downgrading.

“Preliminary evaluations are just that — preliminary,” Demotech President Joe Petrelli told Bankrate. Some of the 27 could retain an ‘A’ or higher rating. But if these downgrades happen, homeowners whose coverage is with an affected company may need to find another insurance carrier in a market where options are already limited or expensive.

While a rating downgrade may present challenges for a company and its insureds, that hardship cannot, and does not, factor into our ratings, which are based on specific data and the objective application of our rating methodology.— Joe PetrelliPresident of Demotech

The Florida OIR established a reinsurance fund through its last-resort insurer, Citizens. This means that if an insurance company’s financial strength rating is downgraded below the ‘A’ level, the downgraded company could purchase coverage from Citizens to back it, similar to a co-signer backing a loan. Reinsurance through Citizens would allow the downgraded insurance company to meet Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s requirements. This is important because it would prevent policyholders from being required to find a new property insurer. However, a reinsurance solution further strains Citizens, which is already taking on substantial risk by insuring more policyholders in the state as other insurance companies exit Florida.

Learn more: Demotech downgrades and what they might mean for the Florida property insurance market

Update: Florida seeks to replace Demotech

On September 9, the Florida legislature approved a $1.5 million plan to search for a financial strength rating company to replace Demotech. The state will hire a consultant to seek out alternatives that may include finding another company or creating a state-backed financial strength rating agency. Petrelli released a statement in response:

“Since 1996 in Florida, Demotech has provided neutral, unbiased ratings to property insurers, among the approximately 50,000 such ratings we have produced across the country. Our review and analysis process has remained consistent throughout this time. Currently, at least four rating organizations acceptable to the government-sponsored mortgage enterprises operate in Florida and countrywide, and a research effort on rating alternatives could be accomplished at no cost to the taxpayers by reviewing existing Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae sellers or servicer guides. Today’s action is an unnecessary response to a problem that does not exist. The reality is that when Hurricane Andrew devastated the state nearly 30 years ago, the rating agencies involved in Florida chose to step away — but Demotech stepped up.”

It remains to be seen if finding another ratings agency will produce meaningful results toward correcting the Florida home insurance crisis. As always, Bankrate continues to monitor the situation.

How to lessen your risk of nonrenewal

If you live in Florida, having a plan could help you lessen your risk of receiving an insurance nonrenewal. There’s nothing you can do to prevent your company from pulling out of the state, but there are steps you can take to make your home as insurable as possible:

  • Keep your roof updated and in good shape: Inspect your roof regularly and repair minor damage as it happens. If you can afford to, replace your roof before it reaches 15 years of age to lessen the risk of being nonrenewed.
  • Install wind mitigation features: State law requires Florida home insurance companies to offer discounts for certain wind protection features, such as hurricane straps and other roof-bracing measures. These features lessen the risk of severe damage to your home, thus making your property more attractive to insurers.
  • Maintain your property: Generally, maintaining your property will make finding insurance coverage easier. Along with checking your roof, also regularly check the rest of the exterior features of your home for damage. You should also make sure no large tree branches or other potential hazards overhang your home, as these could put you at risk of roof damage in a windstorm.

Additionally, there are ways you can lessen the impact of home insurance fraud and help keep companies from having to liquidate. ICA Carter points out that “consumers have the power to help stop contractor fraud by being informed and reporting fraud.”

  • Know the signs and stay educated: ICA Carter created educational resources called “Demolish Contractor Fraud: Steps to Avoid Falling Victim” that may help homeowners recognize the signs of fraud, stop it before it happens and report it.
  • Be wary of solicitation: Soliciting business isn’t against the law, but contractors who canvas neighborhoods after storms — and especially those who offer incentives and rebates for an inspection — may be part of a scam. Instead, contact your insurance company if you are concerned your home sustained damage after a storm.
  • Do not sign an assignment of benefits form: These forms have been banned by Senate Bill 2-A, but keeping an eye out for them as you work with a contractor could still be useful. By keeping control of your policy, you decide if a lawsuit is filed, which vastly cuts down on fraudulent litigation. It’s worth noting that these forms are often buried within otherwise legitimate-looking contracts. Once you’ve signed, the form is legally binding, so it’s important to read everything you are asked to sign. Do not let a contractor simply point out a signature section on paperwork or scroll past the details on a tablet screen. Read the entire document carefully.

Additionally, some companies now offer a discount if you agree to make your policy unassignable. Kin is one such company, and Harper notes that having a high number of unassignable policies has shielded the company from much of the litigation nightmare ensnaring other carriers.

What to do if your home insurance has been canceled

If you’ve received a Florida homeowners insurance cancellation, act quickly. With hurricane season approaching and the insurance market in turmoil, getting another policy could be difficult, but it is possible.

McFaddin recommends that you “work closely with your insurer or insurance agent to see what options may be available to you.” ICA Carter’s advice was similar, advising that “consumers should contact their insurance agency immediately to determine what their options are for homeowners insurance.”

If you’re struggling to find home insurance coverage in Florida, there are still a few companies that may be able to help.


No home insurance company in Florida is immune to the ripping effects of raging litigation, but Harper notes that his company has “some things that we’re doing that allow us to stay open in Florida when other folks aren’t or are going out of business.” In addition to the bulk of the company’s policies being unassignable, the company also employs a unique system for assessing claim damage.

Harper explains that Kin uses software that monitors weather systems and accurately pinpoints which houses may be damaged. The company can then proactively reach out to homeowners to determine if a claim needs to be filed, thereby cutting out potentially predatory contractors.

It sounds crazy, right, to be an insurance company that is asking our customers for claims? But it actually pays off.— Sean HarperCEO of Kin Insurance

Citizens Property Insurance Corporation

Citizens is often one of the only options for homeowners in many areas of the state. The company has experienced rapid growth due to other carriers leaving the market. In 2018, the company had only 414,000 active policies; by August 2022, that number had ballooned to over 1,000,000. Michael Peltier, the spokesperson for Citizens, told Bankrate that the company is writing 5,000 to 6,000 new policies per week, and that in many parts of the state, Citizens is “the only game in town right now.”

Even so, Peltier says that “we do have underwriting guidelines,” so it may not be an option for all homeowners. Citizens is also affected by the same issues that are plaguing other insurance carriers and have recently raised their rates. Although the company requested a 10.7 percent increase on standard home insurance policies, the Florida OIR approved a 6.4 percent increase. While 6.4 percent is certainly better than 10.7 percent, it’s likely that many Citizens policyholders will still feel the strain of a larger bill. The rate increase will go into effect on September 1.

Additionally, Friedlander warns that, because Citizens is insuring so many of the high-risk homes that other carriers have walked away from, “a major hurricane striking Florida could have devastating effects” on the company and the industry. Offering reinsurance to companies if Demotech does downgrade ratings will add more risk to Citizens if a disaster strikes.

Citizens may get some relief from the December 2022 reform bill, though. Policyholders must now accept private insurance quotes if they are no more than 20 percent higher than Citizens’ quotes. Additionally, Citizens’ rates must be actuarially sound but are now required to be non-competitive with the private insurance market. Finally, Citizens policyholders will be required to carry flood insurance. Rates for a last-resort policy are likely to be higher going forward, but that should theoretically help curb the influx of policies that could drown Citizens entirely.

Update: Slide Insurance takes on some St. Johns and UPC policyholders after insolvency

Since its 2021 inception, Tampa-based company Slide Insurance has embraced taking on books of business from insolvent Florida home insurance companies.

In February of 2022, the Florida OIR announced that Slide would absorb about 147,000 policyholders from St. Johns Insurance Company when it reported its insolvency. In a similar move, approximately 72,000 UPC Insurance policyholders were transferred to Slide when UPC went belly-up in February 2023.

But what is Slide Insurance? Founded by former Heritage Insurance CEO Bruce Lucas, Slide is an insurtech that relies on AI and large data sets for its underwriting models. The company claims this is the edge it needs to thrive in the challenged Florida homeowners insurance market. Slide is rated A (Exceptional) by Demotech.

If you’re one of the many homeowners who have found themselves transferred to Slide, you might be wondering what’s next. According to the company, policyholders have no actions to take — as long as you pay your premiums, there will be no lapse of coverage. Additionally, Slide will notify your mortgage company for escrow purposes (if applicable).

One important thing to note is that Slide will not handle any open UPC claims that occurred before February 1, 2023. Instead, those that need help with an existing UPC claim should contact the UPC claims center directly.

Update: Florida OIR announces Tailrow Insurance Company as newest carrier to enter the Florida home insurance market

In April 2023, the Florida OIR announced that it approved the application for Tailrow Insurance Company, bringing a new carrier into the state.

While Tailrow is yet to be formed (the company has provisions to meet before the OIR will authorize it to do business), this may be a promising first step in stabilizing the market. Bankate’s experts are committed to staying on top of this story and will bring our readers new information as it unfolds.

The bottom line

Florida home insurance has always been complex due to the state’s high risk of storm damage, but the incidence of fraudulent roofing claims has pushed the market to the brink of collapse. The problem may not stay in Florida, either; if other high-risk states like Louisiana and California see an increase in insurance fraud, those markets could begin to degrade. There is hope, though, as measures are put into place to protect companies and policyholders from financial strength rating downgrades, laws are passed that could help curb scams and carriers take a different approach to insuring homes in the Sunshine State. But will these measures be enough to save a market in turmoil?

More signs indicate Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could be unraveling

CBS News

More signs indicate Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could be unraveling

Holly Williams – October 29, 2022

There are more and more signs that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could be unraveling.

One of the most glaring setbacks in its war is its recent big call-up of more troops — a plan that doesn’t appear to be working. Russia’s mobilization has caused anger at home, forcing the old and inexperienced into uniform, with claims they’re short of even basic equipment. The call-up followed weeks of embarrassing setbacks for Russian forces, as Ukraine has retaken swaths of its territory. And in the Russian-occupied city of Kherson, officials appointed by Moscow have evacuated civilians ahead of another expected Ukrainian counter-offensive.

Artillerymen of Ukraine's Armed Forces destroy the Russian invaders with the help of the German 155-mm FH70 howitzer, Zaporizhzhia Region, southeastern Ukraine. Oct. 27, 2022.  / Credit: Sipa via AP Images
Artillerymen of Ukraine’s Armed Forces destroy the Russian invaders with the help of the German 155-mm FH70 howitzer, Zaporizhzhia Region, southeastern Ukraine. Oct. 27, 2022. / Credit: Sipa via AP Images

On Russian state TV, at times the tone seems close to despair. Russia miscalculated its strength and for eight straight months can’t win in its war on Ukraine, said one commentator. Perhaps another sign of Russian desperation is its new tactic: targeting the Ukrainian power grid, which has led to blackouts in Ukraine — but no collapse in morale. As Russia’s nuclear forces started annual drills this week, President Vladimir Putin repeated his government’s allegation that Ukraine could detonate a radioactive device — a so-called “dirty bomb.” Some fear Russia is planning a false-flag operation, staging an incident and blaming Ukraine, perhaps as a pretext for using a nuclear weapon. “I’m not guaranteeing you that it’s a false flag operation yet, don’t know,” said President Joe Biden. “But it would be a serious, serious mistake.” Ukraine’s defense minister told CBS News Russia is exhausted, and trying to force Ukraine and the West to negotiate. In a bizarre speech this week, Putin railed against the West, including gay pride parades and so-called cancel culture. But he also said that it would make no sense for Russia to use a nuclear weapon. Biden’s response to that was: If he has no intention, why does he keep talking about it?

In Putin’s Russia, the Arrests Are Spreading Quickly and Widely

The New York Times

In Putin’s Russia, the Arrests Are Spreading Quickly and Widely

Anton Troianovski – July 5, 2022

 The Federal Security Service building in Moscow, Aug. 29, 2018. (Sergey Ponomarev/The New York Times)
The Federal Security Service building in Moscow, Aug. 29, 2018. (Sergey Ponomarev/The New York Times)

They came for Dmitry Kolker, an ailing physicist, in the intensive care ward. They came for Ivan Fedotov, a hockey star, as he was leaving practice with a film crew in tow. They came for Vladimir Mau, a state university rector, the week he was reelected to the board of Gazprom.

The message sent by these high-profile detentions: Nearly anyone is now punishable in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

The flurry of arrests across the country in recent days has signaled that the Kremlin is intent on tightening the noose around Russian society even further. It appears to be a manifestation of Putin’s declaration in the early weeks of his war in Ukraine that Russia needed to cleanse itself of pro-Western “scum and traitors,” and it is creating an unmistakable chill.

“Every day feels like it could be the last,” Leonid Gozman, 71, a commentator who continues to speak out against Putin and the war, said in a phone interview from Moscow, acknowledging the fear that he, too, could be arrested.

None of the targets of the recent crackdown was an outspoken Kremlin critic; many of the loudest Putin opponents who chose to stay in Russia after the invasion of Ukraine, like politicians Ilya Yashin and Vladimir Kara-Murza, were already in jail. But each of the recent crackdown targets represented an outward-looking Russia that Putin increasingly describes as an existential threat. And the ways they were taken into custody appeared designed to make waves.

Kolker, the physicist, entered the hospital in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk last week for treatment for late-stage cancer, so weak that he was unable to eat. The next day, agents for the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the successor agency to the KGB, arrived and, accusing him of treason, flew him to a Moscow jail. Over the weekend, he died in custody.

“The FSB killed my father,” his son Maxim, 21, wrote in all capitals on social media alongside an image of the three-line telegram sent by the authorities to notify the family of the death. “They didn’t even let our family say goodbye.”

Maxim Kolker, who is following in his father’s footsteps as a physicist in Novosibirsk, said Dmitry Kolker had been known for hiring students to work in his laboratory, helping persuade some budding Russian scientists not to seek work abroad.

Now, he said in a phone interview, the family has to return Kolker’s body from Moscow at their own cost.

It was unclear why the FSB targeted Dmitry Kolker, 54, a specialist in quantum optics. State media reported that he had been jailed on suspicion of passing secrets abroad. But critics of the Kremlin say it is part of a widening campaign by the FSB to crack down on freedom of thought in the academic world. Another Novosibirsk physicist who was also arrested on suspicion of treason last week, Anatoly Maslov, remains in custody.

The arrests came at the same time as the arrest on fraud charges of Mau, a leading Russian economist who is the head of a sprawling state university, the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.

Mau, 62, was in no way a public critic of the Kremlin. He had joined more than 300 senior academic officials in signing a March open letter calling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “necessary decision,” and he was reelected to the board of Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, just last week. But he also had a reputation as what scholars of Russian politics call a “systemic liberal,” someone who was working within Putin’s system to try to nudge it in a more open and pro-Western direction.

His Kremlin ties were not enough, it turned out, to save Mau from a fraud case that has already ensnared the rector of another leading university and that critics said appeared designed to snuff out remaining pockets of dissent in Russian academia.

“A big enemy of the government and the stability of the government are people who carry knowledge,” said Gozman, who worked with Mau as a government adviser in the 1990s. “Truth is an enemy here.”

Ekaterina Schulmann, a political scientist who taught at Mau’s academy until April, called the institution “the educational hub for most of the country’s civic bureaucracy” and described his arrest as Russia’s highest-level criminal prosecution since 2016. It indicated, she said, that ideological purity was becoming an ever more important priority for Russian authorities, especially in education.

“In education, it is important that a person actively profess and share the values that he has to implant in the heads of his students,” said Schulmann, now a fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin. “Here, ambiguous loyalty may not be permitted.”

Putin has said as much himself. In the speech in March in which he railed about the traitors in Russia’s midst, he called out those who physically reside in Russia but live in the West “in their thoughts, in their slave-like consciousness.”

He is also increasingly asserting that truly patriotic Russians must be committed to living and working in Russia. He told an economic conference in St. Petersburg last month that “real, solid success and a feeling of dignity and self-respect only occurs when you tie your future and your children’s future to your Motherland.”

In that context, the news that Fedotov, the goalie of Russia’s silver-medal national hockey team at the Beijing Olympics in February, signed a contract in May with the Philadelphia Flyers was likely to have been seen as a challenge.

Fedotov, 25, one the hockey world’s up-and-coming stars, was planning to leave for the United States this month, according to Russian media reports.

Instead, on Friday, as he was leaving a practice session in St. Petersburg, he was stopped by a group of men, some in masks and camouflage, and taken away in a van, according to a television journalist who was filming a special report about him and saw the incident.

Fedotov’s alleged crime, according to Russian news agencies: evading military service. Russian men under 27 are required to serve for one year, although sports stars are typically able to avoid conscription. On Monday, the RIA Novosti state news agency reported that Fedotov had been taken to an unnamed Russian navy training base.

The elaborate detention was widely perceived as punishment for his having chosen to play in the United States rather than stay in Russia. “I won’t be surprised if they put him on some submarine and send him out to sea,” RIA Novosti quoted a Soviet sports veteran as saying. “He won’t go anywhere after that.”

To Gozman, the liberal commentator who remains in Moscow, a common thread running through the recent arrests was their seemingly gratuitous cruelty. In Putin’s system, he said, such behavior is more likely to be rewarded than censured by the state.

“The system is built in such a way that excessive cruelty by an official is rarely punished,” Gozman said. “But excessive softness can be. So any given official seeks to exhibit great toughness.”

France agrees to deliver French-made CAESAR 155mm wheeled howitzers to Ukraine

Defense News – Global Security army industry

France agrees to deliver French-made CAESAR 155mm wheeled howitzers to Ukraine

April 23, 2022

According to information published by the French newspaper website “Le Figaro“, on April 22, 2022, the French President Emmanuel Macron has unveiled that France will deliver state-of-the-art CAESAR 155mm wheeled self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine.

Army Recognition Global Defense and Security news
French army CAESAR 155mm wheeled self-propelled howitzers. (Picture source Army Recognition)

Citing information from the newspaper website “Ouest France” published on April 22, 2022, during an interview, the French President Emmanuel Macron announced that France will deliver CAESAR 155mm wheeled self-propelled howitzer as well as MILAN anti-tank guided missile weapon systems to Ukraine.

According to French Sources, 12 CAESAR 155mm howitzers will come for the military inventory of the French to be delivered to the Ukrainian armed forces. After the announcement on April 21, 2022, by the United States of new $800 million military aid for Ukraine and the help provided by many European countries, France wants to show its support for the Ukrainian government in its fight against the Russian forces which have invaded the country since February 24, 2022.

On April 12, 2022, Army Recognition reported that France and Italy delivered a few dozen Milan anti-tank guided missile weapon systems to Ukraine between February 28 and March 3, 2022.

For the past few days, Russian forces have launched a large offensive in eastern Ukraine and continue to carry out bombardments throughout the country. Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to declare a battlefield victory by May 9, the 77th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany.

The main goal of the Russian armed forces is to size the Donbas region and southern Ukraine. The Ukrainian President Zelenskyy also said that Russia has increased the movement of troops in the direction of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-biggest city, as well as the Donbas and the Dnipropetrovsk region. The Donbas region is made up of the two pro-Russian self-declared republics of Luhansk and Donetsk.

The CAESAR is 155mm wheeled self-propelled fully designed and developed by the French company Nexter. This new artillery was presented for the first time to the public in June 1994 and was ordered by the French army in September 2000 and delivered late in 2022.

Since CAESAR entered into service, this outstanding artillery system has become combat-proven during external combat operations in Afghanistan, Mali, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, the Sahel region, the Middle East, and East Asia. The CAESAR has served under severe real conditions of engagement (wind, dust, night, snow, the mountain in winter, jungle, deserts of sand and rocks, during extreme temperature, etc.) and showed its great combat capabilities as an artillery support weapon.

The 6×6 wheeled self-propelled howitzer CAESAR is armed with a 155 mm/52 caliber cannon mounted at the rear of the truck chassis. The cannon inherits the long tradition of cannons by Nexter (ex- GIAT Industries), with the French-made TRF1 155mm towed howitzer and the AUF1 self-propelled howitzer on tracked armored chassis. It can be also mounted on 8×8 military truck chassis to increase mobility in all-terrain conditions.

The 155mm/52 caliber of the CAESAR can fire a wide range of ammunition: among others, LU family (HE, Illuminating, Smoke and Practice) filled with insensitive or conventional explosives, the BONUS (Anti-Tank, smart), ERFB NR (Explosive Extended-Range Full-Bore), as well as the new KATANA 155mm, guided artillery ammunition. It has a firing range from 4.5 to 40 km and a high level of accuracy with the LU family. In direct firing mode, the maximum range is 2 km.

US military is already using lessons from the war in Ukraine for training soldiers: report


US military is already using lessons from the war in Ukraine for training soldiers: report

Sarah Al-Arshani – April 16, 2022

US Army soldier fires an AT4
A US Army soldier fires an AT4 anti-armor weapon during an exercise at the Vaziani Training Area in Georgia, August 7, 2019.US Army/Spc. Ethan Valetski
  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine featured a disinformation campaign and attacks on civilian areas.
  • The US is already using those lessons in army training for possible future wars, The AP reported.
  • US Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said the whole military is trying to learn lessons from Ukraine.

US Army trainers are already using lessons from Russia’s war in Ukraine to train soldiers for potential future conflicts with adversaries like Russia or China, The Associated Press reported.

“I think right now the whole Army is really looking at what’s happening in Ukraine and trying to learn lessons,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told The AP.

According to The AP, this month’s training at National Training Center involves role-players that speak Russian. The scenario’s focus is on enemy forces that use social media to create propaganda about US troops as well as forces that use missiles in their effort to take over cities.

Wormuth told The AP that the crisis in Ukraine shows how important the information domain is going to be for US forces.

Brig. Gen. Curt Taylor said that the goal is to train brigades on how to use all their tools in combat to wage a coordinated attack, including countering misinformation online.

Russia has used disinformation online and on state-sponsored media to disrupt the narrative that Ukraine is the aggressor in the invasion. Using actual images from the war, propaganda machines give a different explanation of what happened.

Another part of the training will focus on dealing with an enemy that’s willing to use missiles to strike civilian areas, The AP reported.

Russia has attacked hospitals, and apartment buildings, among other civilian buildings. Ukraine, alongside numerous other countries, has accused Russia of war crimes in the targetting of civilian areas.

“We’ve got to be prepared for urban combat where we have an adversary that is indiscriminately firing artillery,” Taylor said.

Stridsvagn 122: The Powerful Tank From Sweden That Russia Hates


Stridsvagn 122: The Powerful Tank From Sweden That Russia Hates

By Brent Eastwood – April 4, 2022

Stridsvagn 122

Swedish soldiers with the Wartofta Tank Company, Skaraborg Regiment in a Stridsvagn 122 main battle tank conduct the defensive operations lane during the Strong Europe Tank Challenge, June 7, 2018. U.S. Army Europe and the German Army co-host the third Strong Europe Tank Challenge at Grafenwoehr Training Area, June 3 – 8, 2018. The Strong Europe Tank Challenge is an annual training event designed to give participating nations a dynamic, productive and fun environment in which to foster military partnerships, form Soldier-level relationships, and share tactics, techniques and procedures. (U.S. Army photo by Gertrud Zach)

Sweden’s Stridsvagn 122 Main Battle Tank Comes to Focus After the Russian Invasion of Ukraine – Sweden is not the first country you think of when it comes to armored maneuver warfare. But they do have a main battle tank, based on a German Leopard import, that serves the Swedish army well. The Stridsvagn 122 has some enviable characteristics for the Scandinavian country that is now taking the possibility of joining NATO seriously since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. New Swedish conscripted troops are being trained on the Stridsvagn 122, which shows the Swedes are executing home defense in a more earnest fashion.

Ukraine Jumpstarts Swedish Stridsvagn 122 Readiness

The Swedes began planning their own combat training activities late last year as the Russians increased their military build-up on the Ukrainian border. They started removing some of the rust from their armored maneuver battalions that hadn’t trained on the Stridsvagn 122 in years.

Get Those New Soldiers Trained on the Tank

For example, the Swedish Gotland Regiment had not trained in a live-fire exercise with the Stridsvagn 122 since 2000. That’s an astonishing lack of training and shows that the Swedes have been neglecting realistic military maneuvers for new troops. So, it took the War in Ukraine to wake up the Swedish army.

The Swedish Army also began supplementing the Stridsvagn 122 with new ammunition recently. In a $27 million deal, the Swedes just ordered new Israeli M339 tank projectiles that are manufactured by Elbit Systems. It’s a step up for the Stridsvagn 122 that needed to happen.

According to Yehuda Vered, the general manager of Elbit Systems, “The M339 not only meets the requirements of the Swedish army but will significantly improve the accuracy and firepower of the Swedish main battle tank Stridsvagn 122 when operating on the battlefield and hit different types enemy targets,” he told Boyko Nikolov of on March 21 of this year.

Good Thing It’s Based on German Technology

The Stridsvagn 122 entered the Swedish military in 1996 and by 1998 there were 180 tanks. It’s based on the Leopard 2A5 Main Battle Tank. That was a good move by the Swedes to pick such a tried-and-true platform. The significant benefit of the Leopard 2A5 is that it provided the Stridsvagn 122 with modern armor on the hull and turret. It also borrowed from the French a top-notch survivability system that can sense an infrared anti-tank missile and fire infrared decoys to spoof the incoming missile.

Internal Controls Have Been Modernized

The 68-ton Stridsvagn 122 is known for digital fire controls and an encrypted radio and internal comms system. The tank commander has his own computer terminal. The driver has a video monitor and there is a state-of-the-art navigation system.

Top of the Turret Armor Is Improved

The Swedish main battle tank has improved armor along the top of the turret which is a weakness for many tanks when anti-tank guided missiles use a deadly downward trajectory attack angle. The fire control system has been modernized as well over the original Leopard platform.

Stridsvagn 122 – Nothing Wrong With Its Engine or Firepower

It retains the twin-turbo diesel engine from the Leopard with a hefty 1,500 horsepower. There is a 120mm smoothbore main gun. A 7.62mm coaxial machine gun and a 7.62mm anti-aircraft machine gun is included.

The tank is made for the frontlines and to excel in tank-on-tank warfare, plus it is able to survive against improvised explosive devices and anti-tank mines.

Bottom Line

There is much to admire about the Stridsvagn 122. Leopard tanks are known for reliability and survivability. There is ample firepower. The fire controls, navigation, and internal and external comms are up to date. The new Israeli projectiles will help even more.Stridsvagn 122

A Swedish leopard 2 tank (Strv 122) on exercises, taken in Sweden, February 16th 2006. Taken with a canon 350D.

But the Swedes need to beef up the numbers of troops who are qualified to operate their main battle tank. They must increase the operational tempo and practice realistic training in all weather and in night and day conditions. They will need to show they can complete live fire and maneuverability exercises, ideally against “red team” opposing forces that can be comparable to the rehearsals that tank forces in NATO countries execute.

If they can conduct this type of training, the Stridsvagn 122 will be the main battle tank that can better accomplish home defense missions for the Swedes.

Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.

Voice of the people: Truth and facts can be become of matter of life and death

The Ledger

Voice of the people: Truth and facts can be become of matter of life and death

The Ledger – March 29, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting via video conference in Moscow, Russia, last week.
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting via video conference in Moscow, Russia, last week.
Truth and facts can be become of matter of life and death

Reporting from journalists has indicated that as much as 60% of Russians do not believe that Vladimir Putin has attacked Ukraine and is bombing and killing Ukrainian citizens. This means that we should not count on the Russian people to remove Putin from power.

A Russian child in Ukraine was told by parents back in Russia that this attack and killing of Ukrainians is not true. Russian state media has conditioned its citizens to believe its version of invasion.

Hard to believe? Here in America, tens of millions of our citizens believe the last presidential election was stolen from the incumbent. Latching on to the Big Lie cost the lives of a number of people during the insurrection at our Capitol Jan. 6. In addition, the same lack of truth and facts puts dozens of public officials in harm’s way from the supporters of the Big Lie.

Some elements of our media are in the same business as the Russian state media, spreading misinformation to advance their causes. The truth and facts can be become of matter of life and death, especially with regard to the life of our democracy.

Daniel W. Brasier, Lakeland