U.S. Has Spent Nearly $6 Trillion on War Since 9/11

November 14th, 2018

WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

War Is A Racket by Major General Smedley Butler

In other news, U.S. Government Can’t Account for $21 Trillion Since 1998.

Via: The Hill:

The United States is on track to have spent nearly $6 trillion on war since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a report released Wednesday.

The annual analysis from the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University far exceeds Pentagon estimates because it looks at all war-related costs — including the Pentagon’s war fund, related spending at the State Department, veterans care and interest payments — for military operations in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

“We were told to expect wars that would be quick, cheap, effective and beneficial to the U.S. interest,” study author Neta Crawford said at a Capitol Hill news conference. “Because we finance these wars on a credit card, the costs of the wars themselves pose a national security challenge.”

The study estimates that war-related spending through fiscal 2019 will total $4.9 trillion. Another projected $1 trillion for veterans care through fiscal 2059 brings the total to $5.9 trillion, according to the study.

Should the wars continue through fiscal 2023, total costs will be more than $6.7 trillion, the study added, citing the Pentagon’s projected future years’ spending and likely needs for veterans.

“It’s important for the American people to understand the true costs of war, both the moral and monetary costs,” Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said in a statement. “Our nation continues to finance wars and military operations through borrowing, rather than asking people to contribute to the national defense directly, and the result is a serious fiscal drag that we’re not really accounting for or factoring into deliberations about fiscal policy or military policy.”

Volkswagen to Devote 3 German Plants to Electric Car Push

November 14th, 2018

Via: AP:

German automaker Volkswagen will convert three factories in Germany to manufacture electric cars, ramping up production of zero-local emission cars ahead of tougher European emissions standards, the company said Wednesday.

Wolfsburg-based Volkswagen said Wednesday that it would begin local production of electric-powered vehicles at its facilities in Emden and Hannover in 2022. A plant in Zwickau was designated previously for e-car production.

How ZTE Helps Venezuela Create China-Style Social Control

November 14th, 2018

Via: Reuters:

Chinese telecoms giant ZTE is helping Venezuela build a system that monitors citizen behavior through a new identification card. The “fatherland card,” already used by the government to track voting, worries many in Venezuela and beyond.

The card is increasingly linked by the government to subsidized food, health and other social programs most Venezuelans rely on to survive.

NGO Teaching Migrants to Lie to Border Guards

November 13th, 2018

Via: Russia Today:

A group that helped over 15,000 refugees and migrants to get into Europe has been caught on tape admitting to systematically training asylum seekers to exploit screening interviews by feigning trauma and persecution.

Ariel Ricker, the executive director of Advocates Abroad, a major non-profit NGO which provides legal aid to migrants, has been caught on tape openly discussing how she teaches refugees to lie to border agents. The video was released by Canadian right-wing activist, author and internet personality, Lauren Southern, and will be a part of her new documentary film project ‘Borderless,’ which takes on the European migration crisis.

In the footage, Ricker describes how the organization provides training sessions for migrants seeking entry into Europe, in which they are taught how to act during interviews with border agents:

“I tell them this is acting, all of this is acting… for them to get through, they must act their part in the theater.”

After Conquering the World, Smartphone Faces Uncertain Future

November 12th, 2018

The last phone I bought was a heavily discounted Samsung Galaxy Note 4. It’s fine. I have no plans to upgrade.

I’d consider buying a “modern” flagship-grade phone if it included a 3.5mm headphone jack and an easily removable back and battery. There are no high end phones with easily removable batteries and the 3.5mm jack is going away. I chortle at the hair on fire insanity of these moves, but I’m simply not going along with this retrograde “progress” when it comes to phones.

(Never mind all of the surveillance issues with the damn things.)

Is this what it means to become a codger in the information age?

“When I was a boy, I could remove the battery from my phone and plug in my headphones without a stupid dongle. Now, get off my lawn!!!”

Via: AFP:

What is next for the smartphone, which has become the hottest-selling consumer device around the world in just over a decade?

Even as top makers like Apple and Samsung unveil new handsets with new features and improved performance, smartphone sales have flattened with most major markets largely saturated.

The next catalyst for smartphones could be the possibilities offered by the forthcoming 5G, or fifth generation wireless networks, new form factors or advances in virtual and augmented reality.

But some analysts contend that something entirely different may supplant the smartphone.

Future Today Institute founder Amy Webb said in her annual report on technology trends that 2018 “marks the beginning of the end of traditional smartphones” and sees a transition to a new era of computing and connected devices based on voice, gesture and touch.

Robots Are Coming for Europe’s Jobs

November 12th, 2018

Via: Bloomberg:

Robots are coming for people’s jobs in Europe, and the countries in the ex-communist east are particularly vulnerable.

With the use of industrial robots rising globally, the average worker in Slovakia — the world’s top car producer per capita — faces a 62 percent median probability that his or her job will be automated “in the near future,” the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said Tuesday.

In a report that compared 11 emerging countries with developed economies, the London-based development bank said workers in Lithuania are only slightly less at risk, and the chance hovers at around a coin toss for employees in Slovenia, Poland, the Czech Republic and Estonia. Robots will be most used in textiles, agriculture and manufacturing, it said.

U.S. Army Personnel to Compete in eSports to Boost Recruitment

November 12th, 2018

In other news: Too Fat to Fight: Military Threatened by Childhood Obesity.

Via: Stars and Stripes:

The Army is putting together a team of video gamers from within its ranks to try to reach young Americans in the digital worlds where they spend much of their time.

More than 15 years after launching “America’s Army,” a first-person shooter game aimed at enlisting real world soldiers, the Army is calling for active duty troops and reservists to compete in video gaming tournaments, or esports, in one of its latest recruiting efforts.

The move follows the Army’s failure this year, for the first time in more than a decade, to meet the fiscal year target for bringing in new soldiers as it seeks to expand its ranks to more than 500,000 in the next four years.

The Army is also creating a “functional fitness” team to compete in CrossFit athletic events and is reportedly looking to spruce up recruiting efforts with more bonuses, more recruiters, better furniture and a new slogan to replace “Army Strong.”

The service plans to hold tryouts for a variety of electronic games, said Staff Sgt. Ryan Meaux, an Army recruiter, in a Facebook video on Wednesday.

Florida Airport Shut Down Over ‘Suspicious Package’ That Ended Up Being Provisional Ballots?

November 12th, 2018

Via: TownHall:

Late Sunday evening the Ft. Lauderdale Airport was shut down due to a suspicious package left outside of one of the terminals. Reports are coming in that an Avis rental car employee discovered provisional ballot boxes left in the back of a rental car that had just been returned by a Broward County employee.

Alarm Over Talks to Implant UK Employees with Microchips

November 11th, 2018

Via: Guardian:

Britain’s biggest employer organisation and main trade union body have sounded the alarm over the prospect of British companies implanting staff with microchips to improve security.

UK firm BioTeq, which offers the implants to businesses and individuals, has already fitted 150 implants in the UK.

The tiny chips, implanted in the flesh between the thumb and forefinger, are similar to those for pets. They enable people to open their front door, access their office or start their car with a wave of their hand, and can also store medical data.

Another company, Biohax of Sweden, also provides human chip implants the size of a grain of rice. It told the Sunday Telegraph that it is in discussions with several British legal and financial firms about fitting their employees with microchips, including one major company with hundreds of thousands of employees.

The CBI, which represents 190,000 UK businesses, voiced concerns about the prospect.

A CBI spokesperson said: “While technology is changing the way we work, this makes for distinctly uncomfortable reading. Firms should be concentrating on rather more immediate priorities and focusing on engaging their employees.”

The TUC is worried that staff could be coerced into being microchipped. Its general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We know workers are already concerned that some employers are using tech to control and micromanage, whittling away their staff’s right to privacy.

“Microchipping would give bosses even more power and control over their workers. There are obvious risks involved, and employers must not brush them aside, or pressure staff into being chipped.”

Related: Cyborgs at Work: Employees Getting Implanted with Microchips

U.S. Crude Oil Posts Longest Losing Streak in Over 34 Years, Falling for 10th Day

November 9th, 2018

Via: CNBC:

U.S. crude prices fell Friday for a 10th consecutive session, sinking deeper into bear market territory and wiping out the benchmark’s gains for the year.

The 10-day decline is the longest losing streak for U.S. crude since mid-1984, according to Refinitiv data.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude settled 48 cents lower at $60.19 on Friday. The contract is now down nearly half a percent this year. It fell as low $59.26 on Friday, its weakest level in about nine months.

Oil prices spiked in early October on fears that U.S. sanctions on Iran, OPEC’s third biggest oil producer, would thin out global petroleum supplies. However, the Trump administration granted temporary sanctions exemptions to eight countries, allowing Iranian crude exports to continue and easing concern about undersupply.

Analysts now expect the loss of exports from Iran to be less severe than anticipated.

Meanwhile, the world’s top three producers, the United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia are pumping at or near records. Other OPEC members and exporting nations are also turning on the taps.

Preliminary data this week suggests U.S. production has hit an all-time high at 11.6 million barrels per day.

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