Friday, April 15, 2016
WASHINGTON — Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley sounded the alarm that the US Army is currently in a state of “high risk” when it comes to being ready enough to defend the nation and respond to a large conflict.
“On the 'high military risk,' to be clear, we have sufficient capacity and capability and readiness to fight counterinsurgency and counterterrorism,” Milley said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday. “My military risk refers specifically to what I see as emerging threats and potential for great power conflict and I am specifically talking about the time it takes to execute the task ... and the cost in terms of casualties.”
Milley added he submitted a personal, classified assessment to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the defense secretary characterizing the military’s risk as high.
SASC Chairman John McCain, of Arizona, said declaring the military to be at high risk “is a strong statement” that he believed was generated from “long and hard” thinking.
The Army’s budget has shrunk in almost every aspect in recent years and the service is having to reduce its size to a total Army of 980,000 soldiers, which include all three components. Yet with the emerging and current threats in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere, Army leaders believe the force should be as big as 1.2 million soldiers to meet the Pentagon strategy and guidance.
McCain quoted from the Army Capabilities Integration Center director Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster’s testimony given earlier this week to paint a clear picture of what high risk to readiness looks like: “When we minimize our Army, we maximize the risk to our soldiers, the risk that in a crisis they will be forced to enter a fight too few in number and without the training and equipment they need to win.”
One piece of evidence that the military’s readiness is at high risk is the fact that only a third of the Army’s Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) are ready to deploy and only a couple of those are ready to deploy immediately.
Milley explained that the pair of BCTs that are most ready could fight tonight and, in fact, one is forward-deployed now. “The others,” he said, “they are going to require something in terms of training to get them ready.”
McCain pointed out in his opening testimony that the Army is already stretched thin: There are 186,000 soldiers deployed in 140 locations around the globe.
And back home two-thirds of the Army’s BCTs “would require some amount of time to bring them up to satisfactory readiness to deploy in combat,” Milley said.
The “high risk” assessment for the Army does not take into account what might happen if sequestration is implemented again next year. That would mean lowering the active force from 450,000 troops to 420,000, which could spell disaster in terms of being able to respond to a major world crisis, according to Milley.
Credit to defensenews.com
Those that were hoping for an “economic renaissance” in the United States got some more bad news this week. It turns out that the U.S. economy is in significantly worse shape than the experts were projecting. Retail sales unexpectedly declined in March, total business sales have fallen again, and the inventory to sales ratio has hit the highest level since the last financial crisis. When you add these three classic recession signals to the 19 troubling numbers about the U.S. economy that I wrote about last week, it paints a very disturbing picture. Virtually all of the signs that we would expect to pop up during the early chapters of a major economic crisis have now appeared, and yet most Americans still appear to be clueless about what is happening.
Even I was surprised when the government reported that retail sales had actually fallen in March. Consumer spending is a very large part of our economy, and so if consumer spending is slowing down already that certainly does not bode well for the rest of 2016. The following comes from highly respected author Jim Quinn…
The Ivy League educated “expert” economists expected March retail sales to increase by 0.1%. They only missed by $6 billion, as retail sales FELL by 0.3%. They have fallen for three straight months. At least gasoline sales were strong, as prices have risen 22% since mid-February. That should do wonders for the finances of American households. If you exclude gasoline sales, retail sales fell by 0.4%. As the chart below reveals, the year over year change in retail sales has been at or near recessionary levels for most of 2015, and into 2016.
You can view the chart that he was referring to right here. In addition to a decline in retail sales, total business sales have also been falling, and this is another classic recession signal. The following comes from Wolf Richter…
Total business sales fell again in February, the Commerce Department reported today. They include sales by manufacturers, retailers, and wholesalers of all sizes across the US economy. This measure is far broader than the aggregate sales by publicly traded companies, which too have been falling.At $1.284 trillion in February, total business sales were down an estimated 0.4% from January, adjusted for seasonal and trading-day differences but not for price changes. And they were down 1.4% from the already beaten-down levels of February last year. They’re back where they’d first been in November 2012!
Yes, the stock market has been on quite a run for the past several weeks, but that temporary rebound is not based on the economic fundamentals.
The truth is that the real economy is definitely starting to slow down substantially. If you want to break it down very simply, less stuff is being bought and sold and shipped around the country, and that tells us far more about what is coming in the months ahead than the temporary ups and downs of stock prices.
Another huge red flag is the fact that the inventory to sales ratio in the U.S. has hit the highest level that we have seen since the last financial crisis…
The crucial inventory-to-sales ratio, which tracks how long unsold inventory sits around in relationship to sales, is now at a mind-bending 1.41. That’s the level the ratio spiked to in November 2008, after the Lehman bankruptcy in September had put the freeze on the economy.Inventories represent prior sales by suppliers. When companies try to reduce their inventories, they cut their orders. Suppliers see these orders as sales. As their sales slump, suppliers adjust by cutting their own orders, thus causing the sales slump to propagate up the supply chain. They all react by cutting their expenses. And if it lasts, they’ll cut jobs. Inventory corrections have a nasty impact on the overall economy.
Because sales have slowed down, inventories are starting to pile up to alarmingly high levels. And when companies see that business is slowing down, they start to let people go.
In a previous article, I told my readers that Challenger, Gray & Christmas is reporting that job cut announcements at major firms in the United States are up 32 percent during the first quarter of 2016 compared to the first quarter of 2015.
Somehow, most of the talking heads on television don’t seem too alarmed by this.
But ordinary Americans are beginning to become alarmed about what is happening. In fact, the percentage of Americans that believe that the U.S. economy is “getting worse” is now the highest it has been since last August…
One of the more glaring examples of how strong pessimism has become is Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index. The measure gauges the difference between respondents who say the economy is improving or declining. The most recent results are not good.Fully 59 percent say the economy is “getting worse” against just 37 percent who say it is “getting better.” That gap of 22 percentage points is the worst since August, according to Gallup, which polled 3,542 adults.
Personally, I thought that we would be a little further down the road by now, but without a doubt a new economic downturn has begun in America.
So far, it is less severe than what most of the rest of the planet is experiencing. Japan’s GDP is officially shrinking, major banks are failing all over Europe, and even CNN admits that what is going on down in Brazil is an “economic collapse”.
It’s funny – yesterday I took time out to write an article about the horrible suffering that ISIS sex slaves are enduring, and a few of my critics took that as a sign that there must not be enough bad economic news to write about.
Well, the truth is that this isn’t the case at all. The global economic meltdown is steaming along, even if it is moving just a little bit slower than many of us had originally anticipated. We are moving in the exact direction that myself and many others had warned about, and the rest of 2016 is looking quite ominous for the global economy.
So hopefully everyone (including the critics) is using whatever time we have left wisely. Because I definitely wish the very best for everyone during the exceedingly hard times that are coming.
Credit to economic Collapse
An Ohio man paralyzed in an accident while diving in waves can now pick up a bottle or play the video game Guitar Hero thanks to a small computer chip in his brain.
Ian Burkhart's hands and legs were permanently paralyzed in a diving accident when he was 19 years old. But now with the help of a new, breakthrough computer chip - implanted in his brain - the, now, 24-year-old is playing guitar hero.
"When we first hooked everything up, you know for the first time being able to move my hand, it was a big shock because you know it was something that I have not moved in three and half years at that point, now it's more of something where I expect it to move."
The small pea-sized computer chip relays signals from Burkhart's brain through 130 electrodes to his forearm, allowing his mind guide his hands and fingers, bypassing his damaged spinal cord.
On Wednesday, scientists and neurosurgeons describing this quadriplegic's accomplishments as a milestone in the evolution of brain-computer interface technology.
"This really provides hope, we believe, for many patients in the future as this technology evolves and matures."
Burkhart says the progress is moving along faster than he imagined.
"The biggest dream would be to get full function of my hand back, both my hands, because that would allow you to be much more independent, not to have to rely on people for simple day to day tasks that you take for granted."
Scientists are working to improve the technology, which for now can only be used in the laboratory, and move toward a wireless system bringing Burkhart another step closer to his dream.
Is the 'Brain Chip' Another Step on the Path to Transhumanism?
Transhumanism is a philosophical and cultural position that encourages human advancement through technology. More specifically, transhumanism encourages the use of artificial enhancements to push mankind towards something “more than” human. Fundamentally, it is a form of Utopianism, the belief that human beings can change themselves and create a heaven on earth. The basic idea of improving the human condition is perfectly compatible with the Bible. In fact, it’s one of the purposes of a Christian lifestyle (John 10:10). But transhumanism contradicts the Bible when it assumes that humanity is completely sovereign and capable of self-directed change without the need for God (Jeremiah 17:9).
Like any other cultural movement, there are subsets and sub-genres of thought under the transhumanist tent. There are some admirable motivations behind transhumanism. For some, the intent is to reduce suffering or improve quality of life (Luke 12:33). Taken to an extreme, though, it can become a pursuit of immortality, an escape from moral boundaries, or a form of religion in and of itself. The ultimate redemption of mankind is something that will be accomplished by God alone (Revelation 21:1), not by technology.
Credit to Trunews
The Office of Personnel Management is preparing for a pilot program to automatically track public social media postings of people applying for security clearances.
OPM is conducting market research to find companies that can perform automated social media tracking and other types of Web crawling as part of the background investigation process, according to an April 8 request for information posted online. Responses from interested companies are due by April 15.
OPM is looking for companies that can automatically browse “publicly available electronic information,” which includes information posted to news and media sites; Facebook, Twitter and other social media postings; blog postings; online court records, updates to photo and video-sharing sites; and information gleaned from online e-commerce sites, such as Amazon and eBay.
OPM is interested in companies that have fully automated capabilities — “with no human intervention,” according to the RFI — with the ability to search for information “in the parts of the World Wide Web whose contents are not indexed by standard search engines.”
Companies should also have a “robust identity matching algorithm” that won’t get tricked by similar names and return irrelevant results.
The pilot project tests the feasibility of obtaining social media tracking from commercial vendors and will be a joint effort between OPM, which is responsible for performing most federal employee background checks, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, according to an OPM spokesman.
Testing of the new tech will be conducted on a population of 400 investigations, the spokesman said, although there’s still no word on when the pilot project is set to get underway.
Credit to technocracy.new
There have been three large earthquakes recorded today, including a major one in southern Japan which destroyed buildings and left at least 45 people injured, after Myanmar was rocked yesterday.
Yesterday tremors were also felt as far as 500 miles away at the national park in India where the Royal couple Kate and William were visiting.
Today The Japanese Red Cross Kumamoto Hospital confirmed admitting 45 injured patients, including five with series problems after a quake of magnitude 6.2 to 6.5 and a series of strong after shocks ripped through Kumamoto city.
Several buildings were damaged or destroyed and at least six people are believed to be trapped under homes in Mashiki and local reports said one woman was rescued in critical condition
Scientists say there has been an above average number of significant earthquakes across south Asia and the Pacific since the start of the year.
The increased frequency has sparked fears of a repeat of the Nepal quake of 2015, when 8,000 people died, or even worse.
Roger Bilham, seismologist of University of Colorado, said: "The current conditions might trigger at least four earthquakes greater than 8.0 in magnitude.
"And if they delay, the strain accumulated during the centuries provokes more catastrophic mega earthquakes."
Fearing an "aggressive" Russia, US Army officials have revealed a top-secret study, reminiscent of the Cold War, to analyze the Kremlin’s military capabilities.
"It is clear that while our Army was engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq, Russia studied US capabilities and vulnerabilities and embarked on an ambitious, and largely successful, modernization effort," Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster told Politico.
A leading figure in the US Army, McMaster is currently overseeing a "high-level government panel" formed to decide how the Pentagon "should adapt to this Russian wake-up call."
Known as the Russia New Generation Warfare Study, the panel is concerned, in part, with Moscow’s success in Syria, and partly with imagined Russian aggressions in Eastern Europe.
"Russia possesses a variety of rocket, missile and cannon artillery systems that outrange and are more lethal than US Army artillery systems and munitions," he said.
To respond to Russian capabilities, the study hopes to find new ways to upgrade America’s own military, in what former NATO commander General Wesley Clark described to Politico as, "the most dramatic rethinking since the collapse of the Soviet Union."
"These are the kind of issues the US Army hasn’t worked [with] since the end of the Cold War 25 years ago."
While the fact that the US Army is undergoing a top secret study of Russian military strategy may not be altogether surprising, its methodology may be.
"The Yom Kippur War had a shock effect on the US Army," former Marine and president of the Potomac Foundation Phillip Karber told Politico.
In the aftermath of that war in 1973, US generals were sent to analyze derelict Russian tanks, and found them to be far more advanced than the Pentagon previously believed.
"It challenged decades of accumulated assumptions," Karber said.
For the Pentagon, the comparison of the Yom Kippur War is analogous to today. That conflict broke out while the US was distracted in Vietnam, and the US believes its more recent forays into Iraq and Afghanistan blinded it to a military resurgence in Russia.
While Moscow appears to have US military strategists in a panic, General Donn Starry stressed that victory lies in soldiers’ attitudes, not necessarily technical superiority.
"It is strikingly evident," he said, according to Politico, "that battles are yet won by the courage of soldiers, the character of leaders, and the combat experience of well-trained units."
Notwithstanding those noble sentiments,, the US Army probably won’t be shutting down its study any time soon.
Credit to Sputnik
Read more: http://sputniknews.com/us/20160415/1038038623/us-army-studies-russia.html#ixzz45rufmEju