AuthorTopic: The Surlynewz Channel  (Read 596061 times)

Offline RE

  • Administrator
  • Chief Cook & Bottlewasher
  • *****
  • Posts: 39200
    • View Profile
Re: U.S. HAS SPENT SIX TRILLION DOLLARS ON WARS THAT KILLED HALF A MILLION PEOPLE
« Reply #3915 on: September 12, 2019, 02:48:45 AM »
U.S. HAS SPENT SIX TRILLION DOLLARS ON WARS THAT KILLED HALF A MILLION PEOPLE SINCE 9/11, REPORT SAYS

That works out to 6,000,000,000,000/500,000 = $12,000,000/Dead Person.

Very Expensive!  This from the same folks who pay $500K for a toilet of course.  ::)

RE

Sounds about right.

OTOH, a handful of the Very Best People got paid handsomely for supplying Our Boys in Uniform.

How else could Daddy Warbucks afford to adopt Little Orphan Annie?



RE
Save As Many As You Can

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 16541
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Gargantuan 'Bubbles' of Radio Energy Spotted at the Center of Our Galaxy
« Reply #3916 on: September 12, 2019, 05:14:42 AM »
Gargantuan 'Bubbles' of Radio Energy Spotted at the Center of Our Galaxy. How'd They Get There?
By Brandon Specktor - Senior Writer

Two huge bubbles of radio energy swirling out of the Milky Way's middle could be evidence of an ancient cosmic explosion — or maybe the start of a new one.



In this radio image of the Milky Way's center, a supermassive black hole (hidden in the bright blue spot in the middle) seethes while gargantuan bubbles of radio energy puff out on either side. Scientists aren't sure what's creating them.(Image: © South African Radio Astronomy Observatory/ Heywood et al.)

A few million years ago, the center of the Milky Way experienced a bout of bad gas.

Suddenly, some unknown quantity of matter and electromagnetic energy swirling near our galaxy's central black hole erupted in a gargantuan explosion. Electrons moving at nearly the speed of light tore into nearby clouds of dust and gas, causing them to balloon into two enormous, nearly identical bubbles of invisible energy. They're still there today, each one towering some 25,000 light-years high (about a quarter of the width of the Milky Way itself), but you won't see them unless you have an eye for the most energetic radiation in the universe. 

Astronomers discovered these galactic fart bubbles in 2010, while looking toward the center of the galaxy with NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Now known as the Fermi Bubbles, these massive, gassy blobs appear only in X-ray and gamma-ray light, teasing at an ancient and extremely powerful origin. How and when this galactic bubble-blowing blast occurred, astronomers can't say. But in a new study published today (Sept. 11) in the journal Nature, an international team of researchers reported some fresh clues found by looking to the opposite end of the electromagnetic spectrum, at radio waves.

Using a radio telescope array called MeerKAT to look through the dust clouding our galaxy's navel, researchers in South Africa have detected a pair of bubble-like radio-wave structures bulging out of the galactic center right next to the Fermi Bubbles. While these "radio bubbles" appear much smaller and much less energetic than the frenetic Fermi Bubbles, they likely originated from a similarly cataclysmic event involving our galaxy's central black hole. They may even be part of an ongoing process that's slowly fueling the Fermi Bubbles' inflation, the researchers wrote.

"The Milky Way's central black hole can, from time to time, become uncharacteristically active, flaring up as it periodically devours massive clumps of dust and gas," study co-author Ian Heywood,  an astrophysicist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, said in a statement. "It's possible that one such feeding frenzy triggered powerful outbursts that inflated this previously unseen feature."

Heywood and his colleagues detected the radio bubbles while searching the galaxy's center for a very specific band of short wavelengths that correspond to a type of energy called synchrotron radiation. The process occurs when electrons moving at near light speed collide with magnetic fields, resulting in a distinct radio signal. While mapping this signal near the center of the galaxy, the study authors discovered a long oval of radio energy spanning about 1,400 light-years in diameter, with the galaxy's central black hole sitting at the middle.

Based on the speed of gas flowing near the bottom of the radio bubbles, the researchers estimated the structures to be about 7 million years old, which aligns with younger estimates for the ages of the Fermi Bubbles. It's possible, then, that the two sets of bubbles resulted from the very same cosmic eruption — or, at least, the same sort of explosion.

"The shape and symmetry of [the radio bubbles] strongly suggest that a staggeringly powerful event happened a few million years ago very near our galaxy's central black hole," study co-author William Cotton, an astronomer with the U.S. National Radio Astronomy Observatory, said in the statement. "This eruption was possibly triggered by vast amounts of interstellar gas falling in on the black hole or a massive burst of star formation which sent shock waves careening through the galactic center."

Alternatively, the radio bubbles may be a sign of a new galaxy-scale explosion in the making, the researchers wrote. Given their relatively small size and low energy, the radio bubbles could be the result of small-scale energy bursts that, over millions of years, fuel much larger explosions, creating vast, high-energy clouds like the Fermi Bubbles.

While the detection of these newfound energy bubbles won't solve any mysteries, it does add another piece to the puzzle that is the Milky Way's middle. Seething with giant bubbles of both low-energy and high-energy radiation, our central black hole's indigestion clearly hasn't passed yet.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline azozeo

  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 9397
    • View Profile
Re: Gargantuan 'Bubbles' of Radio Energy Spotted at the Center of Our Galaxy
« Reply #3917 on: September 12, 2019, 10:34:48 AM »
Gargantuan 'Bubbles' of Radio Energy Spotted at the Center of Our Galaxy. How'd They Get There?
By Brandon Specktor - Senior Writer

Two huge bubbles of radio energy swirling out of the Milky Way's middle could be evidence of an ancient cosmic explosion — or maybe the start of a new one.



In this radio image of the Milky Way's center, a supermassive black hole (hidden in the bright blue spot in the middle) seethes while gargantuan bubbles of radio energy puff out on either side. Scientists aren't sure what's creating them.(Image: © South African Radio Astronomy Observatory/ Heywood et al.)

<p>A few million years ago, the center of the Milky Way experienced a bout of bad gas.</p>
<p>Suddenly, some unknown quantity of matter and electromagnetic energy swirling near our galaxy's central black hole erupted in a gargantuan explosion. Electrons moving at nearly the speed of light tore into nearby clouds of dust and gas, causing them to balloon into two enormous, nearly identical bubbles of invisible energy. They're still there today, each one towering some 25,000 <a href="https://www.space.com/light-year.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+spaceheadlines+%28SPACE.com+Headline+Feed%29&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher" data-track-type="click" data-index="1" data-component="Inline links" data-count="15" class="hawk-link-parsed">light-years[/url] high (about a quarter of the width of the Milky Way itself), but you won't see them unless you have an eye for the most energetic radiation in the universe. </p>
<p>Astronomers discovered these galactic fart bubbles in 2010, while looking toward the center of the galaxy with NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Now known as <a href="https://www.livescience.com/fermi-bubbles-radiation-blob-mystery.html" data-track-type="click" data-index="2" data-component="Inline links" data-count="15">the Fermi Bubbles[/url], these massive, gassy blobs appear only in <a href="https://www.livescience.com/32344-what-are-x-rays.html" data-track-type="click" data-index="3" data-component="Inline links" data-count="15">X-ray[/url] and <a href="https://www.livescience.com/50215-gamma-rays.html" data-track-type="click" data-index="4" data-component="Inline links" data-count="15">gamma-ray[/url] light, teasing at an ancient and extremely powerful origin. How and when this galactic bubble-blowing blast occurred, astronomers can't say. But in a new study published today (Sept. 11) in the journal <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1532-5" data-track-type="click" data-index="5" data-component="Inline links" data-count="15" class="hawk-link-parsed" data-href-on-the-fly="https://go.redirectingat.com/?id=92X1590019&xcust=livescience-custom-tracking&xs=1&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nature.com%2Farticles%2Fs41586-019-1532-5&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.livescience.com%2Fmilky-way-radio-bubbles-bad-gas.html" data-merchant="SkimLinks - nature.com" data-hl-processed="skimlinks" data-hawk-tracked="hawklinks" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener" data-label="Nature">Nature[/url], an international team of researchers reported some fresh clues found by looking to the opposite end of the electromagnetic spectrum, at <a href="https://www.livescience.com/50399-radio-waves.html" data-track-type="click" data-index="6" data-component="Inline links" data-count="15">radio waves[/url].</p>
<p>Using a radio telescope array called MeerKAT to look through the dust clouding our galaxy's navel, researchers in South Africa have detected a pair of bubble-like radio-wave structures bulging out of the galactic center right next to the Fermi Bubbles. While these "radio bubbles" appear much smaller and much less energetic than the frenetic Fermi Bubbles, they likely originated from a similarly cataclysmic event involving our galaxy's central black hole. They may even be part of an ongoing process that's slowly <a href="https://www.livescience.com/65037-galactic-center-chimneys-fuel-space-bubbles.html" data-track-type="click" data-index="7" data-component="Inline links" data-count="15">fueling the Fermi Bubbles'[/url] inflation, the researchers wrote.</p>
<p>"The <a href="https://www.livescience.com/amp/supermassive-black-hole-weird-flare.html" data-track-type="click" data-index="8" data-component="Inline links" data-count="15">Milky Way's central black hole[/url] can, from time to time, become uncharacteristically active, flaring up as it periodically devours massive clumps of dust and gas," study co-author Ian Heywood,  an astrophysicist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, said in a statement. "It's possible that one such feeding frenzy triggered powerful outbursts that inflated this previously unseen feature."</p>
<p>Heywood and his colleagues detected the radio bubbles while searching the galaxy's center for a very specific band of short wavelengths that correspond to a type of energy called <a href="https://www.livescience.com/65344-quantum-vacuum-gamma-rays.html" data-track-type="click" data-index="9" data-component="Inline links" data-count="15">synchrotron radiation[/url]. The process occurs when electrons moving at near light speed collide with magnetic fields, resulting in a distinct radio signal. While mapping this signal near the center of the galaxy, the study authors discovered a long oval of radio energy spanning about 1,400 light-years in diameter, with the galaxy's central black hole sitting at the middle.</p>
<p>Based on the speed of gas flowing near the bottom of the radio bubbles, the researchers estimated the structures to be about 7 million years old, which aligns with younger estimates for the ages of the Fermi Bubbles. It's possible, then, that the two sets of bubbles resulted from the very same cosmic eruption — or, at least, the same sort of explosion.</p>
<p>"The shape and symmetry of [the radio bubbles] strongly suggest that a staggeringly powerful event happened a few million years ago very near our galaxy's central black hole," study co-author William Cotton, an astronomer with the U.S. National Radio Astronomy Observatory, said in the statement. "This eruption was possibly triggered by vast amounts of interstellar gas <a href="https://www.livescience.com/65185-what-is-black-hole-event-horizon.html" data-track-type="click" data-index="10" data-component="Inline links" data-count="15">falling in on the black hole[/url] or a massive burst of star formation which sent shock waves careening through the galactic center."</p>
<p>Alternatively, the radio bubbles may be a sign of a new galaxy-scale explosion in the making, the researchers wrote. Given their relatively small size and low energy, the radio bubbles could be the result of small-scale energy bursts that, over millions of years, fuel much larger explosions, creating vast, high-energy clouds like the Fermi Bubbles.</p>
<p>While the detection of these newfound energy bubbles won't solve any mysteries, it does add another piece to <a href="https://www.livescience.com/65715-magnetic-black-hole.html" data-track-type="click" data-index="11" data-component="Inline links" data-count="15">the puzzle that is the Milky Way's middle[/url]. Seething with giant bubbles of both low-energy and high-energy radiation, our central black hole's indigestion clearly hasn't passed yet.</p>


great article
I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world.
You don’t know what it is but its there, like a splinter in your mind

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 16541
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
‘Someone’s Gotta Tell the Freakin’ Truth’
« Reply #3918 on: September 14, 2019, 06:29:28 AM »
‘Someone’s Gotta Tell the Freakin’ Truth’
Jerry Falwell’s Aides Break Their Silence. More than two dozen current and former Liberty University officials describe a culture of fear and self-dealing at the largest Christian college in the world.




By BRANDON AMBROSINO September 09, 2019

Brandon Ambrosino is a writer living in Delaware. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic and the BBC, among others.
At Liberty University, all anyone can talk about is Jerry Falwell Jr. Just not in public.


“When he does stupid stuff, people will mention it to others they consider confidants and not keep it totally secret,” a trusted adviser to Falwell, the school’s president and chancellor, told me. “But they won’t rat him out.”

[html]

That’s beginning to change.

Over the past year, Falwell, a prominent evangelical leader and supporter of President Donald Trump, has come under increasing scrutiny. News outlets have reported on business deals by Liberty University benefiting Falwell’s friends. Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen claimed that he had helped Falwell clean up racy “personal” photographs.

Based on scores of new interviews and documents obtained for this article, concerns about Falwell’s behavior go well beyond that—and it’s causing longtime, loyal Liberty University officials to rapidly lose faith in him.

More than two dozen current and former high-ranking Liberty University officials and close associates of Falwell spoke to me or provided documents for this article, opening up—for the first time at an institution so intimately associated with the Falwell family—about what they’ve experienced and why they don’t think he’s the right man to lead Liberty University or serve as a figurehead in the Christian conservative movement.

In interviews over the past eight months, they depicted how Falwell and his wife, Becki, consolidated power at Liberty University and how Falwell presides over a culture of self-dealing, directing university resources into projects and real estate deals in which his friends and family have stood to make personal financial gains. Among the previously unreported revelations are Falwell’s decision to hire his son Trey’s company to manage a shopping center owned by the university, Falwell’s advocacy forloans given by the university to his friends, and Falwell’s awarding university contracts to businesses owned by his friends.

“We’re not a school; we’re a real estate hedge fund,” said a senior university official with inside knowledge of Liberty’s finances. “We’re not educating; we’re buying real estate every year and taking students’ money to do it.”

Liberty employees detailed other instances of Falwell’s behavior that they see as falling short of the standard of conduct they expect from conservative Christian leaders, from partying at nightclubs, to graphically discussing his sex life with employees, to electioneering that makes uneasy even those who fondly remember the heyday of the late Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., the school’s founder and Falwell Jr.’s father, and his Moral Majority.

In January, the Wall Street Journal reported that in the run-up to Trump’s presidential campaign, Cohen hired John Gauger, a Liberty University employee who runs a private consulting firm, to manipulate online polls in Trump’s favor. Not previously reported is the fact that, according to a half-dozen high-level Liberty University sources, when Gauger traveled to New York to collect payment from Cohen, he was joined by Trey Falwell, a vice president at Liberty. During that trip,Trey posted a now-deleted photo to Instagram of around $12,000 in cash spread on a hotel bed, raising questions about his knowledge of Gauger’s poll-rigging work. Trey did not respond to requests for comment.

Jerry Falwell Jr. responded to more than two dozen written questions, defending his actions and criticizing the reporting of this article. “I fear that the true information I am sharing in good faith will simply not make any difference. And will only result in more questions,” Falwell said. He declined to answer subsequent questions.

The string of news articles over the past several months has had a minimal effect on Falwell’s leadership of Liberty University. As the namesake of the school’s founder, Falwell has never had his position seriously challenged. Liberty is thriving financially. Its enrollment has surged past 110,000 students—the vast majority of whom are enrolled online—and across its campus in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the hum of backhoes and bulldozers is omnipresent as construction crews work to keep pace with the university’s swelling ambitions.

But these new revelations speak to rising discontent with Falwell’s stewardship. The people interviewed for this article include members of Liberty’s board of trustees, senior university officials, and rank-and-file staff members who work closely with Falwell. They are reluctant to speak out—there’s no organized, open dissent to Falwell on campus—but they said they see it as necessary to save Liberty University and the values it once stood for. They said they believe in the Christian tradition and in the conservative politics at the heart of Liberty’s mission. Many knew Jerry Falwell Sr. and remember him with clear affection. “The day that man died was the day I lost a father,” one current university official said. All count themselves as conservatives. Many are strong supporters of Trump.

I am a graduate of Liberty University, and my time there overlapped the tenures of both Falwell Sr. and his son. Over the course of my years of reporting on the university, the Falwells have granted me considerable access, including sit-down interviews in the offices of both Falwell Jr. and his brother, the Rev. Jonathan Falwell, who leads Thomas Road Baptist Church. I’ve written candidly about my time there as a student, reported about political divisions on campus and revealed that Trey co-owns a gay-friendly hostel in Miami.

Members of the Liberty University community are generally reluctant to go on the record. The school uses nondisclosure agreements to prohibit many university employees or board members from openly discussing what they’ve seen Falwell do. (“All trustees sign a confidentiality agreement that does not expire at the close of Board service,” Liberty’s attorney told board members in an email that was sent earlier this month after the school received inquiries from reporters on some of the issues outlined in this article.) Tenure and its protections are not available to Liberty faculty members outside the law school. If you teach or work at Liberty, you must get approval from Falwell’s office before you speak to the media. Talk to reporters without his approval—or publicly criticize him, even obliquely—and you could lose your job. If you’re a board member and do the same, you could get forced out, even if you have unimpeachable credentials in the Christian conservative movement.

“It’s a dictatorship,” one current high-level employee of the school said. “Nobody craps at the university without Jerry’s approval.”

“Everybody is scared for their life. Everybody walks around in fear,” said a current university employee who agreed to speak for this article only after purchasing a burner phone, fearing that Falwell was monitoring their communications. The fear is not limited to Liberty’s campus. Several people who lack any tie to Liberty but live in the school’s hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia, refused to go on the record for this story, fearing Falwell would take revenge upon them and their families. “Fear is probably his most powerful weapon,” a former senior university official said.

But even those who fear have their breaking points.

In speaking out, said one longtime current university employee with close ties to theschool’s first family, “I feel like I’m betraying them in some way. But someone’s gotta tell the freakin’ truth.”

“We’re talking about the difference between right and wrong,” a current high-ranking university official said. “Not even ‘being a Christian,’ but being a good person, versus people who manipulate the system.”

PART I: The Kingdom

Long before his May 2007 death, the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr.—the Baptist preacher who founded Liberty University and whose creation of the Moral Majority marked the emergence of white evangelical conservatives as a national political force—made clear how he wanted the empire he’d built to be divided when the time came.

His two sons, Jerry Jr. and Jonathan, had each inherited different aspects of their father’s persona. For Jerry Jr., the elder of the two by four years, it was the stomach for partisan politics, ability to throw an elbow and the savvy to court influential friends. For Jonathan, it was the calling to ministry, his easy way with people and charisma as a public speaker. Jerry Jr. would preside over Liberty University, and Jonathan would lead Thomas Road Baptist Church. Each son had worked under their father at the respective institutions; each knew well what those positions would require.

A bigger question remained: Who would step into Falwell Sr.’s unique role as a national figurehead at the crossroads of evangelical Christianity and conservative politics—a man who counted presidents and senators as friends, a public figure whose outspoken statements riled critics and endeared him to conservatives, and whose endorsement carried real weight with a certain segment of voters?

After the death of Falwell Sr., many within his tight-knit community expected Jonathan to pick up the mantle. A preacher by training, Jonathan had pastoral sensitivities and a personable nature that his brother Jerry lacked.

“Jonathan’s a great speaker and orator, a people person,” one current top Liberty employee close to the Falwell family told me. “Jerry can’t complete a sentence in person. … He’s nervous. It’s just not him, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

But Jerry had a passion for politics, a talent for riling up a certain type of cultural conservative and a spouse, Becki, who, while publicly playing the role of the quiet, supportive, Baptist housewife, knew how to get her way.

“You know, there’s a head of every family,” said a former university employee who worked closely with Becki Falwell for many years. “But what turns the head? The neck. She’s the neck that turns the head wherever she wants it.”

“Until Big Jerry died, you wouldn’t have known [Becki] if she walked up and slapped you,” said a former longtime Liberty official.“Big Jerry dies, and all of a sudden, [if] you’re walking down the hall and you didn’t greet her right, you’re fired.” As if to underline this point, one longtime university employee shared a 2012email in which Becki contacted four school executives at 7:06 p.m. to complain that a low-level university employee had posted a Facebook status on her personal account criticizing alack of adequate parking on campus. “Someone needs to talk to this girl. I don’t think that we allow employees to post negative remarks about Liberty,” Becki wrote to the school officials in a message that included a screenshot of the employee’s post. Shortly before 9:00 p.m., one senior official replied, “We are attempting to call her at home right now.” The woman in question did not respond to requests for comment, but according to her Facebook profile, she is no longer an employee of Liberty University.

A half-dozen people with inside knowledge of the Falwell family said that, after Falwell’s death, Becki pushed to shrink Jonathan’s role at the university—a move current and former Liberty officials described as the start of Jerry and Becki consolidating power.

Right after his father died,Jonathan held a position with Liberty University that was limited but which allowed him “to make sure [Liberty] kept its compass,” as one former longtime Liberty official put it. According to a 2008 statement announcing Jonathan’s appointment as the school’s vice chancellor for spiritual affairs, his responsibilities would include upholding the “doctrinal integrity of the university” and advising his brother on “matters of faith.”

“We need to make sure … that we never go in any direction that we as a university shouldn’t go,” Jonathan said in the statement at the time. “That’s the area that I’m going to focus on and do everything I can to ensure that my dad’s life’s work stays continuing to fulfill the mission that he had in 1971,” the year the university was formed.

But now, top Liberty officials say Jonathan doesn’t hold any sway—spiritual or otherwise—over the university that grew out of the church he leads. “As a general rule,” said a former high-ranking university official with longstanding ties to Liberty and the Falwell family, Falwell Sr. “spoke every Wednesday in [convocation] all year long. His desire was that whoever was the pastor of Thomas Road would [continue the tradition and] speak at Liberty. I think Jonathan speaks … maybe a few times per year.”

“Jerry never removed Jonathan,” a former top Liberty official said. “He just kind of pushed him aside.” For one, Jerry used Liberty’s abundant resources to bring his father’s diffuse properties under his control. “He bought all the [Thomas Road Baptist Church] properties, [Liberty Christian Academy], Jonathan’s building at the airport, and a couple of others. Jonathan complained but never stood up to [Jerry] because he knew [Jerry] controlled the purse strings,” the former top official said. Jonathan did not respond to requests for comment.

While longtime confidants of the Falwell family make clear that Becki loves Jonathan—“they’re family after all,” said one former longtime Liberty employee—many feel that she worked hard to make sure that everyone knew it was her husband, and not her brother-in-law, who would assume the elder Falwell’s mantle as a leading figurehead in the conservative evangelical movement. Becki’s message to Jerry, one high-ranking university official said, was simple: You are Jerry Falwell Junior.

As in: the new Jerry Falwell—the new leader of the Religious Right.

Liberty University has transformed under Jerry Falwell Jr.’s leadership. When he took over as president in 2007, the school, which is a nonprofit, had listed assets of just over $259 million on its then most recent IRS Form 990; in its filing for the fiscal year ending in June 2017, its assets surpassed $2.5 billion. That number is now more than $3 billion, according to public statements Falwell made in 2018.

That growth is driven largely by a vast increase in the number of online students at the school, who now number some 95,000. Many Falwell confidants are concerned with where they see that university tuition money going: into university-funded construction and real estate projects that enrich the Falwell family and their friends.

Among these projects is a Lynchburg shopping center that is owned by Liberty University but which members of the Falwell family have a personal financial stake in operating, according to emails obtained by me.

In an email dated July 18, 2012, Falwell informed several university executives that his son, Trey Falwell, was “starting a new company to do the management” of properties owned by the school, including the shopping center. Trey Falwell, whose given name is Jerry Falwell III, is now a vice president of Liberty University. On August 7, 2012, Trey registered that privately owned company, JF Management LLC, with Campbell County, Virginia. As the address of its principal office, he gave the location of a house where he and his wife, Sarah, resided.

Experts on tax law and nonprofit organizations said that having the president of a nonprofit university directing university business to a company led by his son would be troubling.

“It raises red flags to have your kids being able to profit off the activities of the organization,” said Philip Hackney, an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh Law School who specializes in taxation and nonprofit management. As a general matter of law, “a nonprofit director or officer owes a ‘duty of loyalty’ to the nonprofit. What this means is he cannot take unfair advantage of the nonprofit he controls to his advantage.”

It’s the responsibility of nonprofit leaders to look out for the best interests of their organization, Hackney said, and as a standard practice, those leaders should be able to show how their financial transactions further the nonprofit’s mission in some way.

Asked how the property-management arrangement furthers Liberty’s mission, Falwell said the shopping center was donated to the school in poor condition. “Frankly, there are fewer professional property managers who would be interested in running it for us.”

A stone’s throw from the shopping center is a LaQuinta Inn whose ownership also raises questions about whether Falwell is directing business to family and friends.

The LaQuinta is owned by Comeback Inn LLC, which is registered to Chris Doyle, who manages real estate for the university. In a December 2018 affidavit, Falwell Jr. described Doyle as his “partner in … real estate ventures in Virginia.” Multiple current and former university officials with knowledge of theLaQuinta arrangement said Trey Falwell is a silent shareholder in Comeback Inn.

In an email responding to questions, Doyle declined to discuss the issue. “If my personal and business relationships are of value and interest to the public, I should write a book and [see] no reason to comment at this time,” Doyle said.

Emails obtained for this article show that on at least one occasion, university employees were asked to promote the LaQuinta on the school’s website—what several current and former high-ranking Liberty officials and employees described as part of a process where the school “funnels business” to the hotel.

Falwell denied having a financial interest in Comeback Inn. “I have not financially benefitted from Comeback Inn’s business and I have never owned any interest in Comeback Inn, LLC,” Falwell said in a statement. He did not answer for his son. “I will let Trey Falwell respond separately on his own behalf if he has any comment regarding your question.” Trey Falwell did not respond to requests for comment.

“What I have found over the years is if something doesn’t make sense and Jerry really wants it to happen, he in some form or fashion has a personal interest,” said a current high-ranking Liberty employee with knowledge of Falwell’s financial dealings.

The line between where the Falwell family’s wealth begins and Liberty’s finances end is blurry.

University officials describe Liberty loaning money to the Falwells’ friends, even when these loans arguably are not in the school’s financial interests.According to emails and loan documents obtained for this article, in 2014, the university gave loans of at least $200,000 to Prototype Tourism LLC, a “destination marketing” company founded by Liberty graduate Josh Oppenheimer, whom Jerry Falwell Jr. described to me as “a friendly supporter.” According to emails I’ve reviewed, several high-ranking Liberty officials knew about the loan, including Vice President Trey Falwell. The graduate had difficulty repaying the loan—“not surprised,” Trey wrote in an email.

When asked about the loan, Jerry Falwell Jr. clarified the school’s role with Prototype Tourism. “Liberty University was not simply a lender, but was a minority investor in Prototype Tourism, LLC,” he wrote. Falwell described the company’s goal as promoting tourism to Lynchburg. “Due diligence was performed by multiple individuals who discussed the pros and cons and the consensus was that it was worthwhile to proceed,” Falwell wrote. “In the end, I reluctantly agreed with the recommendation and allowed the transaction to proceed. In hindsight, it was not a good decision. … LU lost its investment and the loan portion of the deal was only partially paid back.”

Other loans were precursors to massive contracts. In 2013, Robert Moon, a friend of Falwell’s with deep family ties to the Falwells, founded Construction Management Associates Inc., a construction company devoted to work on and around campus. Previously unreported is the fact that Liberty gave Moon a loan of $750,000 to form the company before awarding it more than $130 million in contracts and selling it land owned by the university.

When I described this arrangement to Hackney, the associate professor at Pitt Law, he said: “This is not standard or good practice. … A nonprofit that is not in the business of loaning money has little reason to be conducting such activity. It raises issues of whether these are in fact charitable activities that further the nonprofit’s mission.”

Asked whether such loans were a common practice for the university, Falwell wrote in an email that “Liberty has considered investments in other local start-up businesses that would help the University’s business model and the local economy.”

“On the other hand,” Falwell continued, “Liberty University has one of the largest unrestricted endowments in the nation and frequently invests in hundreds, if not thousands, of companies across the world purely for the return on investment whether the company has any nexus to Liberty’s mission or not. The same is true of every major university.”

Moreover, Falwell continued, “I have not personally benefited financially from CMA’s or any other contractor’s work for Liberty University nor has any member of my family.”

At the outset, some in Falwell’s inner circle were not so confident in the arrangement with Moon. Before his CMA Inc. became Liberty’s go-to contractor, the school bid out its construction work through an office on campus. (“Free enterprise tends to do pretty well,” one high-ranking university official said.) The prospect of changing that—giving CMA control over campus construction and its associated costs—rankled some senior university officials.

Early on in the CMA partnership, before CMA became the university’s single-largest contractor, Charles Spence, the school’s then-vice president of planning and construction, expressed unease about the high costs Moon was quoting for certain school projects. “Jerry I am very concerned about cost control on all the projects,” he wrote to Falwell in a November 2014 email. “Over the last couple of weeks we have had a lot of meetings and conversations on cost and cost overruns. We are just seeing the information begin to trickle in and there really don’t seem to be good answers just a response that the cost we are seeing are fair, and being handled appropriately.”

“I hope that I am over reacting,”Spence continued, “but I assure you I am concerned.”

“I am fine with going back to bidding every project out if CMA can’t run with the big dogs!” Falwell replied. “Let’s hold their feet to the fire!”

In each of the two years that followed, Liberty paid CMA more than $62 million, part of at least $138 million in contracts from Liberty since the company was formed, according to publicly available tax documents.

Senior Liberty officials might whisper about the propriety of these business deals, but they told me that Falwell’s decisions on campus are rarely ever challenged by the school’s board of trustees. “There’s no accountability,” a former high-ranking university officer said. “Jerry’s got pretty free reign to wheel and deal professionally and personally. The board will approve an annual budget, but beyond that … he doesn’t go to the board to get approval. … It simply doesn’t happen.”

In his statement, Falwell said he and Moon “are on friendly terms and [have] interacted socially in past years but neither of us would list the other on their list of close friends and associates. It is completely a typical arms-length business relationship.”

But there is evidence to the contrary—much of it documented on the Falwells’ own social media accounts.

In June 2013, for instance, the year CMA was formed, Falwell shared a photo on Instagram showing him, Becki and Trey joining Moon for a cruise down the James River on Moon’s private boat. When asked about the photographs, Falwell admitted to joining Moon on his boat “about five or six times.” “These afternoon outings did not cause me to lose my negotiation skills or abandon my fiduciary duties to enter into deals in the interest of the University,” Falwell wrote.

In July 2014, Falwell, Trey and Moon traveled to Miami together. Falwell said in his statement that he recalls “discussing University business” on the trip.

During the trip, photos were taken of Jerry and Trey Falwell partying at a Miami nightclub—photos that multiple Liberty University officials said Jerry Falwell tried to make disappear.

PART II: The Fixer

On July 19, 2014, popular Swedish DJ John Dahlbäck performed at Wall, a nightclub in Miami Beach, Fla. That night, the club happened to have a photographer on-site to grab candid shots of the revelry. The photos were shared online by World Red Eye, an outlet that documents Miami’s nightlife scene, and Jerry and Trey Falwell were visible in some of the pictures—the outlet identified Trey by name.

In a statement on August 21, Jerry Falwell denied the existence of any photo of him at the club. “There was no picture snapped of me at WALL nightclub or any other nightclub,” Falwell wrote. “I’m sure you already knew that though.”

When told that I had obtained a photo of him for this article, Falwell said I was “terribly mistaken.”“If you show me the picture, I can probably help you out,” he wrote. “I think you are making some incorrect assumptions, or have been told false things or are seeing something that was photo--shopped.”

After I sent him the photo, as well as a photo of Trey at Wall, Falwell responded: “I never asked anyone to get rid of any pictures on the internet of me and I never have seen the picture you claim is of me below. If the person in the picture is me, it was likely photo-shopped.” In a second email sent 23 minutes later, Falwell wrote: “But the bigger question, Brandon, is why would I want a picture like that taken down if I had seen it?”

According to several people with direct knowledge of the situation, Falwell—the president of a conservative Christian college that frowns upon co-ed dancing (Liberty students can receive demerits if seen doing it) and prohibits alcohol use (for which students can be expelled)—was angry that photos of him clubbing made it up online. To remedy the situation, multiple Liberty staffers said Falwell went to John Gauger, whom they characterized as his “IT guy,” and asked him to downgrade the photos’ prominence on Google searches. Gauger did not respond to requests for comment.

Gauger has worked at Liberty since earning his MBA from the school in 2009. In 2016, he was promoted to become the school’s chief information officer about a year and a half after he was named deputy CIO. To several university sources, his rapid rise to the C-suite was shocking.

“I’m not being disrespectful, but John was a nobody,” one longtime Liberty official said.“And the next thing you know, he’s high up in IT.”

Longtime Liberty officials describe Gauger as a sort of fixer for Falwell, a man promoted because he would do what Falwell asked of him without complaint. But Gauger is more than just a university employee: Since 2009, Gauger has also run RedFinch LLC, an online business he foundedthat specializes in search-engine marketing and does lucrative contract work for Liberty. Tax records show Liberty paid RedFinch $123,950 during 2016, for what sources described as search-engine recruitment of online students for the university. Gauger did not respond to requests for comment.

RedFinch’s online work for the school goes beyond typical SEO marketing. In an email from August 2013 obtained for this article, Falwell asked Gauger to defend him in the comments section of a local news article that Falwell felt reflected too negatively on him. Falwell even emailed Gauger the exact wording to post.

“I’m having my RedFinch guys blow this up right away,” Gauger responded. “I’ll tell you how it goes.”

When Falwell told Gauger a different employee already chimed into the conversation, Gauger insisted that he’d “have a few accounts turn the conversation elsewhere just for good measure.”

According to several longtime Liberty employees, it’s extremely unusual for university employees to be allowed to own side businesses that do contract work for the school. “I’ve always had a problem with RedFinch because there never was any clear and distinct lines,” one former Liberty employee told me. “You can’t work at Liberty 8-5 on the clock and get paid from somebody else for the same hours.”

Multiple university officials said Gauger is very close, both personally and professionally, with the Falwells, especially Trey.At Liberty, Gauger reports to Trey, and Trey answers only to his dad.

In January, the Wall Street Journal reportedthat in 2014 and 2015, Michael Cohen hired Gauger’s side business, RedFinch LLC, to rig online polls in Donald Trump’s favor while he considered a run for the presidency. Gauger’s work consisted of writing a computer script to repeatedly vote for Trump in two online polls; his company would get paid $50,000 in return. Instead, Gauger told the Journal that after a meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan, Cohen paid Gauger roughly one-fourth of that amount—between $12,000 and $13,000 in cash—and gave him a boxing glove worn by a mixed martial arts fighter.

Through his lawyer, Cohen, who is serving a three-year prison sentence for tax fraud, making false statements to Congress and violating campaign finance laws, declined a request to comment for this article.

Previously unreported about this incident is that Trey joined Gauger on the January 2015 trip to New York, and posted a photo to Instagramshowing a large amount of cash spread atop a bed in a hotel room. Liberty officials who saw the since-deleted post and described its contents said it raised questions about Trey’s involvement in the pro-Trump poll-rigging effort.

“The idiot posted [a picture of] money on a bed?!” one current senior Liberty official said. “Why do that if you’re not involved with it?”

Liberty officials also pointed to a tweet sent out by the university’s Twitter account on January 23, 2014, linking to one of the polls that the Wall Street Journal reported Gauger had rigged. The poll was conducted by CNBC and asked readers to vote for the top American business leaders.

As a nonprofit, Liberty University is legally prohibited from engaging in “political campaign activity,” to use the IRS’ phrase, at the risk of losing its nonprofit status.

When asked about the tweet, Falwell told me he authorized the university’s marketing department to send it as way of thanking Trump for speaking at Liberty. “A representative of the Trump business organization asked for Liberty University to use Twitter to encourage followers to vote for Donald Trump in the annual CNBC poll. We often get requests from Convocation speakers to promote their books, movies, music and other projects. And we do it all the time,” Falwell said. “After speaking for free at [a 2012 Liberty] Convocation and being so complimentary to our University in his remarks, I considered Donald Trump to be a friend of Liberty University and was happy to publicize the poll in hopes that Liberty followers would be willing to vote for him on the heels of his very positive recent campus appearance.”

Falwell noted that at the time the tweet was sent, “Donald Trump was not a candidate for president and no one at Liberty even knew he would run for President.” However, as the Wall Street Journal reported—and as several sources independently confirmed in the course of my reporting for this article—Cohen had hired Gauger, a Liberty employee, to rig the poll in Trump’s favor for the purposes of garnering support ahead of his presidential bid.

“A 501(c)(3) organization trying to influence a poll so that a candidate’s fortunes are promoted or demoted is not permitted,” said Eve Borenstein, an attorney and tax expert known as the “Queen of the 990,” a moniker used to introduce her ahead of congressional testimony she gave about the IRS Form 990 in 2012.

While 501(c)(3) organizations are permitted to “do objective analysis of [an] electoral horse race,” said Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, a professor at Stetson University College of Law, “tweeting out a rigged poll if Liberty knew it was rigged probably does not fall into that safe harbor.”

Liberty officials said that the arrangement is characteristic of how Falwell wields power. “This paints a picture of how Jerry operates,” one former high-ranking university official said. “Gauger gets promoted, [Liberty] contracts for RedFinch for online recruitment … and [Gauger] gets hooked up with people like Cohen to make more money via RedFinch.” And in the end, Falwell gets what he really wants: “A guy that will do whatever he is told.”

Michael Cohen’s connection to Jerry Falwell Jr., veers into deeply personal territory.

In May 2019, Reuters reported that Cohen helped Falwell contain the fallout from some racy “personal” photos.Later that month, Falwell took to Todd Starnes’ radio talk show to rebut the claims.

“This report is not accurate,” Falwell said. “There are no compromising or embarrassing photos of me.”

Members of Falwell’s inner circle took note of the phrasing.

“If you read how Jerry is framing his response, you can see he is being very selective,” one of Falwell’s confidants said. Racy photos do exist, but at least some of the photos are of his wife, Becki, as the Miami Heraldconfirmed in June.

Longtime Liberty officials close to Falwell told me the university president has shown or texted his male confidants—including at least one employee who worked for him at Liberty—photos of his wife in provocative and sexual poses.

At Liberty, Falwell is “very, very vocal” about his “sex life,” in the words of one Liberty official—a characterization multiple current and former university officials and employees interviewed for this story support. In a car ride about a decade ago with a senior university official who has since left Liberty, “all he wanted to talk about was how he would nail his wife, how she couldn’t handle [his penis size], and stuff of that sort,” this former official recalled. Falwell did not respond to questions about this incident.

More than simply talking with employees about his wife in a sexual manner, on at least one occasion, Falwell shared a photo of his wife wearing what appeared to be a French maid costume, according to a longtime Liberty employee with firsthand knowledge of the image and the fallout that followed.

Falwell intended to send the image to his and Becki’s personal trainer, Ben Crosswhite, as a “thank you” for helping his wife achieve her fitness goals, the employee said. In the course of texting, Falwell accidentally sent the message to several other people, necessitating a cleanup.

In a statement, Falwell denied this. “I never had any picture of Becki Falwell dressed in a French maid uniform, and never sent such a non-existent photo to Ben Crosswhite.”

Crosswhite did not respond to requests for comment.

The Falwells’ close relationship with Crosswhite is the source of consternation for some of Liberty’s top brass because of what they characterize as a sweetheart business deal Falwell had the university offer Crosswhite.

On July 23, 2013, Liberty University began renting space to Crosswhite for use as a fitness center. “The facility was specifically built into the old Racket Club for Jerry and Becki to train privately” with Crosswhite, a longtime university official familiar with the arrangement said. Over the course of the Falwells' private training,Liberty began to pay for expensive upgrades to the facility, according to documents reviewed for this article. Eventually, in 2015, Falwell had a university executive draft a proposal for Liberty to sell the property to Crosswhite at a discount, paying him up front for Liberty’s use of the facility for the next seven years.

“We raised his rent some to cover the investment. LU then sold it to Ben,” one senior university official said. “Nobody else was allowed to bid on it.”

In a September 2015 email, Liberty University Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Randy Smith wrote Crosswhite to let him know the terms of the deal. The university would sell Crosswhite “the club and all real estate associated with it” for $1,216,000. Liberty employees would be allowed to use the facility, Crosswhite could decide what the value of that was—roughly $82,000 per year, he decided—and the school would pay in advance for seven years of use.

At closing, per Falwell’s approval, Liberty would pay Crosswhite approximately $575,000, which effectively cut Crosswhite’s total cost for the $1.2 million property in half. “The net amount that you would need at closing is $641,062 more or less,” Smith wrote. “After reviewing, if the terms are acceptable to you, then I will get final approval from Jerry to proceed,” Smith wrote Crosswhite.

“Hell of a deal,” a former high-ranking Liberty official told me. “We gave Ben everything he asked for.”

In emails obtained for this article, David Corry, lead counsel for Liberty University, expressed concerns about the appearance of the deal. “Please note, though, that Ben Crosswhite enjoys a close working relationship with several LU administrators, including the President, so I suggest whatever course of action is taken, it is done cordially and professionally with knowledge ahead of time that it may be second guessed,” Corry wrote in a September 2017 email to top Liberty staff.

When asked for comment on August 22, Corry four times asked me to turn over to him the email thread. When Corry was provided the exact wording along with the date he sent the email, he replied that he wasn’t shown his “signature block,” perhaps suggesting he had not sent the email in question. When Corry was presented with a screen shot of his email, including his signature block, he said his comment was taken out of context and alleged the sources for this article “are intentionally feeding you partial facts in hopes you will do their dirty work in a very public way.” On August 27, Reuters broke the news of Liberty’s property sale to Crosswhite.

In a statement for this article, Falwell wrote that the athletic facility had been donated to Liberty University and was “a drain on University resources that was disproportionate to its value.” “I wanted to reverse that and allow the University to get what it needed from the facility but eliminate the annual costs of maintenance, staffing and operations,” Falwell said. “Since Ben Crosswhite would not be receiving full use of the entire property” given the university’s continued use of the facility, Liberty decided “Crosswhite never received full value of the whole property and thus should not pay full price.”

“Unless you are approaching this with some sort of pre-determined outcome, the transaction is very easy to understand,” Liberty COO Smith wrote in an email responding to questions for this article. “It is VERY common practice for the university to dispose of an asset that is in financial and operational distress … especially if it can do it in a fashion that is advantageous to the university. To accomplish that while still making the facility available for the university to use is what most would consider to be a win-win situation.”

Smith said the idea for the financial arrangement used to sell the athletic facility to Crosswhite was his. “I proposed that the university commit to renting … from him for a number of years and we could pay that in the form of a credit at closing,” Smith wrote. “To answer your question, yes, creative deals are commonplace at Liberty University.”

“When I hear the laundry list of interested transactions and the questionable use of Liberty University’s assets … I hear a nonprofit that is not well-governed in a sense that I would hope and expect from a sizable nonprofit,” Pitt Law’s Hackney said. “It has the sense of being managed for a charismatic leader and his family and friends rather than for the mission of Liberty.”

PART III: The Power and the Glory

It will surprise no one that Jerry Falwell Jr. is a Republican. He has that in common with the vast majority of people connected to Liberty. But sometimes his partisan allegiances manifest in ways that directly influence the governance of the school—which, as a nonprofit, must not endorse or oppose candidates for public office.

Just days after the 2008 election of Barack Obama, top university officials were already considering ways to ensure that Liberty students voted in 2010 local elections in Lynchburg. Falwell and university officials weren’t simply talking about the sort of voter-registration drives common at many college campuses; they wanted students to tilt the balance of the election.

In emails obtained for this article, top school officials shared a local newspaper article documenting “concerns in some quarters [of Lynchburg] about the overwhelmingly conservative LU students and the possibility they could alter the balance of power on council and change the course of the city.”

“FYI - The challenge we will have in 2010 is [Lynchburg’s local Election Day] is finals week,” a top Liberty official wrote in a November 9, 2008, email to Falwell and other school leaders. “We would either need to get a polling station at LU or try and make this a reading day to get the kids out to vote.”

Falwell responded to the message just under four hours later, announcing that the problem was now solved: “We changed the calendar by one week. School will now let out on May 14 instead of [M]ay 7.”

This wasn’t a fluke. According to a former high-ranking university official who participated in some of these discussions, Falwell often takes “aggressive efforts … to register students in an effort to gain political influence.”

Similarly, in a 2014 email exchange, Falwell complained that Liberty’s commencement date meant that most students would be gone for the summer by the time voting began for Lynchburg’s local elections. “Why did we schedule commencement a week earlier this year?” he wrote in an email to several school executives. When one replied that commencement usually happened during the same weekend each year, Falwell pushed back. “We need to get that corrected for the 2018 graduation or else we will have no students in town to vote in local elections again,” Falwell wrote. “Let’s work on it.”

In the past, Falwell has defended any political actions he’s made as personal stances disconnected from his leadership of Liberty University. “I think our community is mature enough that they understand that all the administrators and faculty have their own personal political views,” he told the Washington Post after endorsing Trump. But it is as the president and chancellor of Liberty that Falwell changed the academic calendar to influence local politics.

In a statement, Falwell admitted to amending the academic calendar “so that students would not be prevented from voting in local municipal elections that used to be scheduled after their spring term exams.”

“They and their parents pay some of the highest taxes in the nation when it comes to the City meal and hotel taxes,” Falwell said. “It’s only fair that they have some say about who is elected to represent them.”

When I shared my reporting on the school’s date changes, legal experts reached different conclusions as to its propriety.

“This paints a picture of an organization that is intervening on campaigns more than it should,” said Pitt Law’s Hackney, although he added that other universities have “presumably” taken student voting into consideration when creating their schedules.

“Doing anything with the resources of a 501(c)(3) organization to promote or oppose candidates for elective public office is not a permitted operation by a 501(c)(3)-qualified organization under federal tax law,” Borenstein, the tax attorney specializing in nonprofit organizations, wrote in an email.

Still, Falwell’s actions here are “likely fine,” said Torres-Spelliscy, the law professor at Stetson University. “Many schools try to cancel classes or hold no classes on Election Day to encourage students to vote or be poll workers or engage in election protection activities. Though the IRS might consider Falwell’s stated partisan motivation if the IRS investigated Liberty to challenge its 501(c)(3) status, this type of investigation is highly u

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 16541
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
7 ways that 9/11 created a dystopian security landscape
« Reply #3919 on: September 15, 2019, 07:24:06 AM »
7 ways that 9/11 created a dystopian security landscape that Americans are still living in

Sep. 11, 2019, 2:34 PM
ferguson police
A police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
  • The American public was angry and frightened after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks that killed 3,000 people, a seismic event which fueled calls for immediate government action to hunt down the group responsible.
  • At home, the federal government under the George W. Bush Administration drastically expanded its surveillance powers to combat terrorism and ramped up efforts to secure its borders — creating new government agencies, federalizing airport security, and combing tens of millions of phone calls.
  • Almost two decades later, that counterterrorism structure still remains firmly in place.
  • Its embedded within American life, and Americans have largely grown comfortable trading off a portion of their civil liberties in return for security.
  • Here are 7 ways that 9/11 created a dystopian security landscape that Americans are still living in.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The American public was angry and frightened after the September 11 terror attacks that killed 3,000 people, a seismic event which fueled calls for immediate government action to hunt down the group responsible.

What started out as an effort to destroy al-Qaeda morphed into costly, blood-soaked wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as US military action in 19 countries under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

At home, the federal government under the George W. Bush administration drastically expanded its surveillance powers to combat terrorism and ramped up efforts to secure its borders — creating new government agencies, federalizing airport security, and combing tens of millions of phone calls.

Almost two decades later, that counterterrorism structure still remains firmly in place. Its embedded within American life, and Americans have largely grown comfortable trading off a portion of their civil liberties in return for security.

Read more: Trump used his 9/11 speech to threaten terrorists with force even greater than 'nuclear power' if they attack the US again

Passengers must undergo rigorous screenings before boarding a commercial airliner. That's in addition to the government managing a secretive watch list where it keeps tabs on individuals suspected of terrorist activities, sharing that information with thousands of public and private organizations.

And police officers can get their hands on surplus military equipment such as body armor, grenade launchers, and mine-resistant trucks left over from America's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq for free.

Here are 7 ways that 9/11 created a dystopian security landscape that Americans are still living in.

Air travel is far more stringent within the United States as passengers must be subjected to rigorous and invasive security screenings.

Air travel is far more stringent within the United States as passengers must be subjected to rigorous and invasive security screenings.
FILE PHOTO: TSA agents check passengers at a security checkpoint at LaGuardia Airport in the Queens borough of New York City
Reuters

Shortly after the attacks, Congress created the Transportation Security Administration and federalized airport security.

Every checked bag is now screened and only ticketed passengers can go through security. And full-body scanners have been introduced, which replaced metal detectors to better uncover non-metal threats like plastic explosives.

They initially drew health concerns for using radio waves to scan for hidden weapons and other lethal devices, but experts largely agree they are safe to use.

Cockpit doors on planes became fortified after 9/11. And pilots are now able to apply to become a federal flight deck officer, allowing them to carry a loaded weapon and have the authority of a federal agent.

In fiscal year 2018, the TSA screened around 804 million airline passengers. And its budget has more than doubled since 9/11.

The Department of Homeland Security was created after 9/11 to protect Americans against terrorism. Now it's the third biggest federal department and drawing accusations of wasteful spending.

The Department of Homeland Security was created after 9/11 to protect Americans against terrorism. Now it's the third biggest federal department and drawing accusations of wasteful spending.
The Department of Homeland Security logo.
AFP

Established in 2003, the Department of Homeland Security consolidated a web of disparate agencies under one cabinet department, including the US Naturalization and Immigration Service.

Charged with safeguarding the US, DHS's responsibilities include aviation and border security, as well as emergency response and emerging threats in cyberspace.

Now its the third largest government agency, employing more than 250,000 people. and critics have targeted its broad mandate as an ingredient for waste.

In 2015, outgoing Republican Senator Tom Coburn released a reportto provide insight into his years overseeing DHS as part of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

"Despite spending nearly $61 billion annually and $544 billion since 2003, the Department of Homeland Security is not successfully executing any of its five main missions," the report said.

Its extensive deportation powers under Trump has fueled calls for DHS to be abolished by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, a progressive lawmaker from New York.

Parts of the US Patriot Act are still in effect almost two decades later, and its been used far more to crack down on drug dealers instead of terror suspects.

Parts of the US Patriot Act are still in effect almost two decades later, and its been used far more to crack down on drug dealers instead of terror suspects.
President Bush, center, is surrounded by lawmakers as he signs the USA Patriot Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2005 in the East Room of the White House on March 9, 2006 in Washington
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Only a month after the 9/11 attacks, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Patriot Act, a broad law aiming to improve the abilities of law enforcement to fight terrorism with tactics already used against organized crime and drug dealers.

It made it easier for officials to wiretap American citizens suspected of being involved in terror activities and execute search warrants without needing to immediately notify their targets, known as "sneak and peek."

The law's extensive reach triggered criticism of its application. Civil rights groups argued the law violates the constitutional rights of Americans since it allows the government to spy on them without any cause. The Washington Post reported in 2014 that "sneak and peek" had been used far more in drug busts rather than fighting terrorism.

Its effectiveness is unclear, as the Justice Department admitted that FBI agents couldn't point to any major terror plots thwarted as a result of the snooping powers of the Patriot Act, according to the Washington Times.

The Patriot Act underwent a major reform in 2015, when President Barack Obama signed a law barring the bulk collection of phone records, another controversial aspect brought to light in the disclosures by whistleblower Edward Snowden two years prior.

However, that law still preserved the federal government's sweeping surveillance power.

Surplus military equipment such as machine guns and armored trucks from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were made available to police departments around the country — for free and few restrictions on their use.

Surplus military equipment such as machine guns and armored trucks from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were made available to police departments around the country — for free and few restrictions on their use.
Amarion Allen, 11-years-old, stands in front of a police line shortly before shots were fired in a police-officer involved shooting in Ferguson, Missouri Aug. 9, 2015.
Reuters/Rick Wilking

In the early 1990s, Congress established a military-transfer program that allowed police departments to obtain military-grade equipment at the height of the nation's drug wars.

After 9/11, the programs were drastically expanded as police officers were seen as a vital part of a war on terrorism.

The availability of federal grant money made it easier for police departments to buy the heavy gear, and equipment in the surplus program like machine guns, armored trucks, and aircraft could be acquired for free — all with few restrictions on their use.

The 1033 program drew scrutiny after police were seen using heavy military gear in their response to the 2014 protests in Ferguson. Obama tightened restrictions on the program, ordering police departments to justify why they needed equipment like a riot shield or tactical vehicles. He barred the shipment of grenade launchers, heavy-armor vehicles, bayonets and rifles among others.

But President Donald Trump scaled back Obama's restrictions in late 2017 and now police don't need to justify the gear they're seeking to obtain and got rid of mandatory federal training.

More than $5.4 billion worth of equipment has flowed to local police since its inception almost three decades ago.

There are is a "terror watchlist" that has over a million people, which include babies, lawmakers, and dead people.

There are is a AP

The government created a terror "watchlist" after 9/11 to help it keep tabs on individuals suspected of being involved in terrorist activities. Being on the list can bar people from traveling to the US, subject them to additional airport scrutiny, and disqualify them from government benefits and contracts.

Over 1.2 million people were on the watchlist as of 2017. Though a vast majority of the people on the list are foreigners, about 4,600 of them are American citizens.

Maitained by the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, the watchlist is also used to create other databases such as the No-Fly List. It's a smaller list that has at least 47,000 individuals on it and bans them from boarding airplanes and traveling through US airspace.

The watchlist has been criticized by civil liberties groups for its opaque decision-making process — and lawmakers, babies and dead people have been included. Some Muslim-Americans also charged they've been wrongly included on the list.

The federal government admitted in court earlier this year it shares the names on the list with over 1,400 private institutions, including hospitals and universities.

A federal judge recently ruled the watchlist violated the constitutional rights of American citizens who were included, The New York Times reported.

The National Security Agency was once able to sift through the phone calls and text messages of Americans in search of terrorists. Congress is set to decide whether the program should be reauthorized.

The National Security Agency was once able to sift through the phone calls and text messages of Americans in search of terrorists. Congress is set to decide whether the program should be reauthorized.
The National Security Agency (NSA) logo is shown on a computer screen inside the Threat Operations Center at the NSA in Fort Meade, Maryland, January 25, 2006.
Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

After 9/11, the Bush administration helped set up a program — called Stellarwind — allowing the National Security Agency to access and analyze the domestic calling records of Americans.

It allowed the NSA to collect records from companies like Verizon, and it used the data obtained to find hidden associates of known terror suspects. It sucked up billions of communication logs on Americans every day.

Much of its legal authority rested on executive power, and the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court issued orders in 2006 based on the Patriot Act compelling telecommunications companies to participate.

The program was among Snowden's revelations in 2013, when the Guardian published the top-secret surveillance court order compelling Verizon to turn over customer phone records to the government.

It drew fury from civil rights advocates who said the government had gone too far, and intelligence officials couldn't point to a disrupted terror plot as a result of the program. It was significantly reformed in 2015, but it can still collect data for specific suspects.

In 2017, it targeted 40 suspects with judicial orders collected 534 million records of phone calls and text messages, the New York Times reported.

The Trump administration recently acknowledged the program had been shut down, but its asking Congress to extend the legal basis behind it.

The US is waging "forever wars" that have no end in sight — and the US government has killed its own citizens overseas suspected of being involved in terrorism.

The US is waging
A US Drone.
US Air Force

The 2001 AUMF empowered the government to pursue the individuals and organizations responsible for carrying out the 9/11 attacks.

But in the years since, the AUMF has been used to initiate military campaigns in 19 countries, mostly in Africa and the Middle East — many of them with the drone program.

Though it started under Bush, Obama used the program far more extensively to target terrorists abroad. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism says the US killed 2,436 people in drone strikes between 2009 and 2015 — and its range of 380-801 civilian casualties was around six times higher than the Obama administration's official numbers.

The US government has also launched drone strikes against its citizens abroad. In 2011, Obama ordered the Central Intelligence Agency to assassinate Anwar al-Awlaki, a jihadist propagandist for al-Qaeda born in California.

It drew criticism from civil rights groups who argued he wasn't given due process nor a trial.

Federal courts have upheld the secrecy of many of the legal memos used to justify his killing, though it compelled the Obama administration to release only one.

Under Trump, the drone program is far more secretive and used more often <a

« Last Edit: September 15, 2019, 07:27:26 AM by Surly1 »
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 16541
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Boris Johnson forced to cancel Luxembourg press conference due to deafening boos
« Reply #3920 on: September 16, 2019, 07:30:25 AM »
Boris Johnson forced to cancel Luxembourg press conference due to deafening boos from protesters



-Boris Johnson forced to abandon press conference in Luxembourg due to protests.
-The UK prime minister was due to field questions from journalists following meetings with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and Luxembourg PM Xavier Bettel.
-However, protesters greeted the UK prime minister with loud boos and protest songs.
-Officials decided to issue a pre-recorded statement from the prime ministers instead.


Boris Johnson was forced to cancel a planned press conference in Luxembourg due to the deafening sound of protesters gathered on the streets to meet him.

The UK prime minister was due to field questions from European journalists at an outdoor press conference on Monday after meeting for talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Luxembourg prime minister Xavier Bettel.

However, Johnson was met by the deafening sound of boos from protesters prior to the planned press conference. Officials announced that they would instead issue a pre-recorded playback of Johnson and Bettel later on Monday.

Protesters sang Ode to Joy and shouted "We are the smiling piccaninnies of Luxembourg" in a reference to Johnson's previous offensive comments about black Africans.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 16541
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Retail Apocalypse: 2019 Store Closures Already Surpass 2018
« Reply #3921 on: September 16, 2019, 07:50:35 AM »
Retail Apocalypse: 2019 Store Closures Already Surpass 2018

As the economy cycles down through fall, there is new, alarming data by professional services firm BDO USA LLP, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, that indicates retail bankruptcies continue to rise as store closures have already outpaced all of 2018. 

BDO warned that the recent acceleration of the retail apocalypse was primarily due to last year’s weak holiday shopping season.

The rate of bankruptcy filings and store closures this year have jumped to crisis levels, expected to continue into 2020. 

David Berliner, who leads business restructuring at BDO, said the trend is rather alarming but could slow into late 2019. “I don’t think the pace of the bankruptcy filings will be as large as it was in the first half,” he added.

BDO found many retailers are dealing with massive debt loads, over expansion due to cheap money, private equity-ownership pressures, and changing consumer behavior. It was the weak consumer in the 2018 shopping season that led to the acceleration of store closures in 2019. 

Retail sales in 1H19 were lackluster, due to smaller tax refunds for consumers, trade war uncertainties and tariffs, and inclement weather, which forced many retailers to offer significant discounts, according to BDO. 

A new BofA credit card report showed more evidence the economy continued to slow this summer. 

BofA found that retail sales ex-autos fell 0.5% MoM in August, which reversed the 0.9% gain in July, and was not only the first monthly contraction since February this year, but was also the biggest monthly drop in 2019.

Aggregated credit card data for August showed 5 out of the 14 sectors increased, led by strength in cruises and airlines. But it was home goods stores, home improvement stores, sporting goods stores, furniture stores, department stores, and clothing stores that posted YoY losses. 

In 1H19, 14 retailers with 25 or more stores filed for bankruptcy, including Payless ShoeSource Inc., Gymboree Group Inc., and Charlotte Russe Holdings Corp., BDO determined. That is up from 13 with 20 or more stores in 1H18.

In the last several months, Charming Charlie Holdings Inc., Barneys New York Inc., A’Gaci LLC, and Avenue Stores LLC have also filed for bankruptcy protection. 

BDO said 19 retailers have already announced 7,000 store closures in 1H19 - has already exceeded all of 2018. Payless, Gymboree and Charlotte Russe accounted for at least 3,700 of those closings.

In an earlier report, we detailed how Coresight Research forecasted 12,000 stores would close in 2019. 

“If the economy does stumble a little bit, things can get painful,” Berliner said.

“That can have a devastating effect on the weak retailers who can’t afford that sales dip in the holiday season.”

And with that being said, the consumer is unlikely to deliver a blockbuster holiday season for retailers this year. This would mean the retail apocalypse could continue into the 2020 election year, could have negative impacts for President Trump. 

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 16541
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Russia hacked the FBI to prevent them being able to track Russian spies
« Reply #3922 on: September 16, 2019, 05:17:05 PM »
Russia hacked the FBI to prevent the bureau from being able to track Russian spies in the US



Russian operatives hacked into the FBI's communication systems beginning in 2010 as part of a broad effort to monitor and cripple the bureau's surveillance of Russian spies in the US, Yahoo News reported on Monday.
The move enabled the Russians to evade surveillance and communicate with human sources, gave them the opportunity to collect information about their pursuers, and prompted concerns among officials that there was a Russian asset within the US intelligence community, the report said.
Yahoo News reported that Russia's hack of the FBI's communication systems was a key reason the Obama administration kicked out 35 Russian diplomats and closed two Russian diplomatic facilities in December 2016.
Russia and the US have ramped up their counterintelligence and cybersecurity operations against each other in recent years as tensions between them mount.
Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.


The Russian government hacked into the FBI's communication system to stop the bureau from being able to track Russian spies working in the US, Yahoo News reported in a bombshell investigation published Monday.

The US in 2012 became aware of "the full gravity" of Russia's ability to breach certain types of secure communications and track devices used by FBI surveillance teams, the report said. In addition to fearing that the Russians may have gained access to US intelligence channels, officials also believed that Russian spies could locate undercover FBI surveillance teams and the substance of FBI communications.

That would have not only enabled the Russians to evade surveillance and communicate with human sources, but given them the opportunity to collect information about their pursuers, Yahoo News reported. It also prompted concerns among officials that there was a Russian asset lurking within the US intelligence community.


The Russians first breached the FBI's communication systems in 2010, after the arrest and exposure of a group of Russian spies in the US, Yahoo News said. That year, the FBI began investigating Russia's efforts to recruit US assets; one of the foremost targets was Carter Page, who later served as a foreign-policy aide on President Donald Trump's campaign.

Read more: The acting director of national intelligence is withholding a mysterious whistleblower complaint of 'urgent concern' that may involve Trump

The FBI informed Page in 2013 that the Russians were trying to cultivate him, but Page ignored their warnings and even publicly boasted about his connections to high-ranking Russian government officials.

The Russians are also said to have breached the backup communication channels the FBI used, something one former senior counterintelligence official told Yahoo News the US "took extremely seriously."
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 16541
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Fracking boom tied to methane spike in Earth’s atmosphere
« Reply #3923 on: September 16, 2019, 05:26:47 PM »
Fracking boom tied to methane spike in Earth’s atmosphere
The chemical signature of methane released from fracking is found in the atmosphere, pointing to shale gas operations as the culprit.



Pump jacks are seen at dawn in an oil field over the Monterey Shale formation in California, where gas and oil extraction using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Scientists have measured big increases in the amount of methane, the powerful global warming gas, entering the atmosphere over the last decade. Cows or wetlands have been fingered as possible sources, but new research points to methane emissions from fossil fuel production—mainly from shale gas operations in the United States and Canada—as the culprit.

The “massive” increase in methane emissions occurred at the same time as the use of fracking for shale gas took off in the U.S., says Robert Howarth, an ecologist at Cornell University and author of the study published Aug 14 in the journal Biogeosciences.

“We know the increase is largely due to fossil fuel production and this research suggests over half is from shale gas operations,” Howarth says in an interview.

This big methane increase matters because methane heats up the climate over 80 times more than an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the first 20 years after it is released into the atmosphere, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. After 20 years most of the methane becomes CO2, which can last for hundreds of years.

Methane released from shale gas production has a slightly different chemical fingerprint compared to methane from cow burps (not farts as commonly believed) and wetlands. Previous studies show that shale gas generally has less carbon-13 relative to carbon-12 (denoting the weight of the carbon atom at the center of the methane molecule) than does methane from conventional natural gas and other fossil fuels such as coal, Howarth said.

The study took previous data on the chemical composition of methane in the atmosphere and applied a series of equations to parse out how much of this lighter form of methane could be attributed to shale gas. That lighter form of methane released during fracking is a substantial component of the overall methane rise since 2008.

However, he acknowledges that the chemical fingerprint of shale gas can vary depending on the locale and how the chemical analysis is done. While the study isn’t a “smoking gun,” it has found a link between recent increases in methane in the atmosphere and shale gas production.

“It’s fuzzy, but the fingerprint is there,” Howarth says.

Signs point to fracking
Natural gas is mainly methane. Fracking involves drilling an oil or gas well vertically and then horizontally into a shale formation. A mixture of highly pressurized water, chemicals, and sand is injected to create and prop open fissures, or pathways for the gas to flow. Nearly all of the world’s fracking operations are in the U.S. and Canada. About two-thirds of all new gas production globally over the last decade has been shale gas produced in the U.S. and Canada using fracking, Howarth’s study found.

The amount of methane added to the atmosphere in the past decade also corresponds to studies that show fracking operations leak, vent, or flare between 2 and 6 percent of the gas produced, Howarth said.

The climate is certainly changing. But what is causing this change? And how does the rising temperature affect the environment, and our lives?
A 2015 study estimated that North Texas’ Barnett Shale region leaked 544,000 tons of methane a year using a conservative leakage rate of 1.5 percent. That’s equivalent to 46 million tons of CO2, more than some states such as Nevada or Connecticut.

A 2015 study led by John Worden of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory found that methane levels were unchanged for years, but increased sharply after 2006, growing by 25 million tons a year. Using satellites and other measures they concluded that fossil fuels were responsible for between 12 and 19 million tons of this additional methane and the rest was likely biological sources.

The Howarth study adds another piece to the extremely complicated methane puzzle, Worden said in an email, declining to elaborate.

It’s unlikely that the sharp rise in global methane levels at the same time as shale oil and gas operations increased dramatically is just coincidence, said Anthony Ingraffea, a Professor of Engineering at Cornell University and a colleague of Howarth’s. The paper suggests shale gas’s chemical fingerprint offers evidence of a direct link, said Ingraffea, who reviewed an early version of the paper.

“Isotopic analysis of gas samples at wellheads across a number of fracking operations could easily prove or disprove Howarth’s hypothesis,” he says. “If Howarth is right then we know shale gas operations are making global warming worse, and upending efforts to stay well below 2C.”

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, every country in the world agreed to keep global temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), while low-lying island states and others lobbied for 1.5 Celsius.

Although often forgotten in climate discussions, methane increases have added to the current warming and will continue to do so without action to cap them.

“The atmosphere responds quickly to changes in methane emissions. Reducing methane now can provide an instant way to slow global warming,” Ingraffea says.

Ingraffea’s own research has found that a small percentage of wells are responsible for the bulk of methane emissions either through leaks or deliberate venting. Retrofits and capturing the gas instead of venting could dramatically reduce emissions but would add to costs.

Environment and health
The Trump administration is trying to ramp up shale production by reversing rules for fracking operations on public lands. Those rules required companies to disclose the chemicals used in fracking, as well as more stringent standards on the construction of fracking wells and wastewater management. In addition, the Trump administration is auctioning off millions of acres of drilling rights to oil and gas developers.

Environmental and health concerns have led France and Germany to ban fracking. New York State, Maryland, and Vermont also have bans. A 2018 study in Pennsylvania found that children born within a mile or two of a fracked well were likely to be smaller and less healthy.

In Arkansas researchers found water levels in 51 percent of its streams dangerously depleted due to water withdrawals for fracking operations. Fracking and the deep-well injection of its waste waters have been widely linked to earthquakes.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 16541
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Baby boomers are going to face another problem: The baby bust
« Reply #3924 on: September 19, 2019, 03:37:46 AM »
Baby boomers are going to face another problem: The baby bust
As Maine goes, so goes the the rest of the country.


LLOYD ALTER
August 27, 2019, 6:42 a.m.
Maine, lobster industry, aging population
With an aging population, who's going to pull in all the lobsters in Maine? (Photo: Christine Norton Photo/Shutterstock)

Maine has the oldest population in the USA, with a median age of 44.6 years, significantly older than the 38.1 median age for the country. According to Jeff Stein in The Washington Post, the state is being "hammered by two slow-moving demographic forces — the growth of the retirement population and a simultaneous decline in young workers."

The disconnect between Maine's aging population and its need for young workers to care for that population is expected to be mirrored in states throughout the country over the coming decade, demographic experts say. And that’s especially true in states with populations with fewer immigrants, who are disproportionately represented in many occupations serving the elderly, statistics show.

Maine recently became the first state to reach the "super-aged" threshold where 20 percent of the population is over 65; the whole country will reach that point in 2030. Health care is in crisis; finding in-home caregivers is almost impossible. Baby boomer kids are run off their feet taking care of their elderly parents. Nursing homes are closing due to lack of staff.

"The U.S. is just starting this journey, and Maine is at the leading edge," said Jess Maurer, executive director of the Maine Council on Aging. "As we are living longer, all the systems that have always worked for us may have to be changed."

No kidding. Bruce Chernof, who wrote a report about this for Congress, says "left unaddressed, this will be catastrophic. We as a country have not wrapped our heads around what it's going to take to pay for long-term care."

The other problem is what we see in Maine, writ large: no young people. Who's going to provide that care? According to The Week,

By 2025, U.S. health-care providers believe they will face a collective shortage of about 500,000 home health aides, 100,000 nursing assistants, and 29,000 nurse practitioners. Some are also bracing for a shortage of up to 122,000 doctors by 2032.

Here comes the Baby Bust

falling fertility rateThose millennial kids aren't having any kids! (Photo: Pew Research Center)

All of this wouldn't be so bad if people still had lots of kids to take care of their parents like they used to, but the birth rate has been declining since the Great Recession in 2008, in what is called the "baby bust." According to the Economist,

Many people lost their jobs or their homes, which hardly put them in a procreative mood. But in the past few years the economy has bounced back—and births continue to drop. America's total fertility rate, which can be thought of as the number of children the average woman will bear, has fallen from 2.12 to 1.77.

The Economist notes that young people like to move to cities where the good jobs are (part of the problem in Maine) and where housing is very expensive and raising kids is very costly. Church attendance is also declining, and "churches tend to be in favour of children — more so than the other places where people hang out on the weekend, such as gyms and bars."

The Wall Street Journal blames spendy, self-centered millennials for not having enough kids. "Americans now expect annual vacations or entertainment that not long ago were available only to the affluent ... The uncomfortable truth may be that the 'two-income trap' is more about maintaining a certain high living standard than it is access to a decent life in America." Or maybe it's all that avocado toast.

The baby bust is, in fact, a huge contributor to the problem of dealing with the baby boom; a shrinking population means a shrinking tax base, at a time when health care costs will be going through the roof. According to the Week, "American spending on health care is expected to rise from about $4 trillion a year to $6 trillion, or 19.4 percent of GDP, by 2027."

mom and caregiverMy late mom and her caregiver at our house for a party. (Photo: Lloyd Alter)

This is a problem in developed countries all over the world, and countries are taking different approaches to the problem. Japan is developing robots to take care of older people; my late mom and all her rich friends in Toronto had flying squads of Filipino caregivers, thanks to a special focused immigration program set up by the Canadian government that lets the caregivers eventually get citizenship once they have worked for a number of years.

Bruce Chernof was right; nobody is wrapping their heads around this problem. We have the baby boomers getting older; we have a baby bust, so nobody will be around to take care of them or generate revenue to pay for their care. We have governments that hate raising taxes and admitting immigrants, when two things we're going to need are lots of money and people, not something anyone wants to talk about these days.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 16541
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Donald Trump's 'Promise' to a Foreign Leader Is More Than Just Troubling
« Reply #3925 on: September 19, 2019, 09:29:06 AM »
Donald Trump's 'Promise' to a Foreign Leader Is More Than Just Troubling
How much of this perilous nonsense are we willing to tolerate?




BY CHARLES P. PIERCE
SEP 19, 2019

I never thought I'd see the day when a serious concern for national security would be allayed in my mind by the fact that the President* of the United States never has made a promise he couldn't break.

Yes, it has well and truly hit the fan. From, as you undoubtedly know by now, the Washington Post:

Trump’s interaction with the foreign leader included a “promise” that was regarded as so troubling that it prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community, said the former officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. It was not immediately clear which foreign leader Trump was speaking with or what he pledged to deliver, but his direct involvement in the matter has not been previously disclosed. It raises new questions about the president’s handling of sensitive information and may further strain his relationship with U.S. spy agencies. One former official said the communication was a phone call.

Sooner or later, we'll find out to whom El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago made one of his customarily worthless promises. If we're all very lucky, it will be to some bush-league satrap like the ruler of Qatar. If we're not lucky, it will be to somebody who won't take the president*'s usual modus operandi as helplessly as various New Jersey glaziers once had to, and the president* will be forced to start eating his KFC with a geiger counter. What we do know is that the communication involving the promise was sufficiently alarming that some conscientious spook blew the whistle on it. What we also know is that our acting Director of National Intelligence has fought like a rabid badger to keep that information a way from the responsible congressional committees.

Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson determined that the complaint was credible and troubling enough to be considered a matter of “urgent concern,” a legal threshold that requires notification of congressional oversight committees.But acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire has refused to share details about Trump’s alleged transgression with lawmakers, touching off a legal and political dispute that has spilled into public view and prompted speculation that the spy chief is improperly protecting the president.
Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire Meets With House Intel Committee To Discuss Whistleblower Complaint
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff arrives at the Capitol before the committee meeting with Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire on Thursday in Washington, DC. Acting Director Maguire is set to meet with members of the House Intelligence Committee over the whistleblower complaint against Trump.
Samuel CorumGetty Images

The Post has followed up with an interesting timeline. The entry for August 8 is particularly piquant.

Aug. 8: After Trump’s pick of Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) to replace Coats falls through, Trump announces Joseph Maguire would take on the role in an acting capacity. In doing so, he bypassed Sue Gordon, who had been Coats’s No. 2 at DNI and was a career intelligence official with bipartisan support. Gordon would also resign.

Four days later, the spook blows the whistle.

One hesitates to say enough is enough but, this time, seriously, enough is truly enough. The president*, who knows nothing about anything and whose word is worthless, is promising god alone knows what to god alone knows who, but whatever it happened to be was scary enough to spook the spooks, and damaging enough to risk corrupting the usual oversight process. How much of this perilous nonsense are we willing to tolerate? When corruption and incompetence collide, there's a lot that hits the fan.


"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 16541
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Trump whistleblower: Why involving Ukraine is ominous
« Reply #3926 on: September 20, 2019, 09:47:56 AM »
Trump whistleblower: Why involving Ukraine is ominous

As of Wednesday night, everyone was speculating about which foreign country President Trump might have made a “promise” to — a commitment that prompted a U.S. intelligence community whistleblower to lodge a mysterious complaint.

The answer to that question is an ominous one for Trump and his supporters when it comes to what lies ahead. And that goes particularly for his 2020 reelection bid, even as we still know very little about the actual complaint.

The Washington Post broke the story late Wednesday that the whistleblower’s complaint dealt with the president and a “promise” he made to a foreign leader. And as The Post’s Ellen Nakashima, Shane Harris, Greg Miller and Carol D. Leonnig again scooped Thursday night, the complaint is focused on Ukraine:

A whistleblower complaint about President Trump made by an intelligence official centers on Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the matter, which has set off a struggle between Congress and the executive branch.

The complaint involved communications with a foreign leader and a “promise” that Trump made, which was so alarming that a U.S. intelligence official who had worked at the White House went to the inspector general of the intelligence community, two former U.S. officials said.

Two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed, Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian and political newcomer who was elected in a landslide in May.

That phone call took place July 25, and for a host of reasons — and depending on the substance of the complaint — it could spell real trouble for Trump and his supporters.

The main reason is because we already knew about demonstrated and very public interest from the Trump team in what Ukraine could provide them when it comes to Trump’s reelection effort. Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani has publicly urged the Ukrainians to pursue investigations that he has admitted would benefit Trump, and one in particular that could damage what appears to be Trump’s most threatening potential 2020 Democratic opponent, Joe Biden.

In May, Giuliani canceled a controversial planned trip to Ukraine that he had admitted was intended to apply pressure on its government to investigate Biden’s son Hunter Biden and his work for a Ukrainian gas company that had previously been of interest to investigators in the country.

Giuliani even acknowledged before the planned trip that it was intended to help Trump and that Giuliani was “meddling” in foreign affairs to that end.

“We’re not meddling in an election; we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do,” Giuliani told the New York Times’s Kenneth P. Vogel. Giuliani added: “There’s nothing illegal about it. Somebody could say it’s improper. . . . I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”

It was a remarkable admission at the time — particularly that it could be “very, very helpful to my client” and separating that from the idea that it might also happen to benefit the U.S. government. And it’s even more remarkable in this moment.

When Giuliani canceled the trip, he blamed the Ukrainian government and suggested Democrats had overblown the situation.

“I’m convinced from what I’ve heard from two very reliable people tonight that the president [Zelensky] is surrounded by people who were enemies of the president [Trump], and people who are — at least [in] one case — clearly corrupt and involved in this scheme,” Giuliani told Fox News.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) on Sept. 19 said a whistleblower complaint to the intelligence community met the threshold requiring notification of Congress. (JM Rieger/The Washington Post)

We know basically nothing about what the whistleblower says Trump might have made a “promise” about or discussed about Ukraine, or even whether it specifically involved that July 25 phone call with Zelensky, which came two and a half weeks before the whistleblower complaint was filed Aug. 12.

But the Ukrainian government’s readout of that call mentioned how Trump was “convinced the new Ukrainian government will be able to quickly improve [the] image of Ukraine, [and] complete [the] investigation of corruption cases, which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA.”

While all this was happening, the Trump administration was holding back military aid to Ukraine. In late August, it was reported that lawmakers were concerned that the administration was failing to provide $250 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which is intended to help Ukraine defend itself from Russia. Last week, the administration relented to bipartisan pressure and released the funds.

Whether because of those details or because he knows what happened, Giuliani appeared on CNN on Thursday night and defended Trump as if there were some kind of a quid pro quo involving foreign aid and investigating the Bidens. (Giuliani will often be dispatched to head off bad stories for Trump, though sometimes he doesn’t have his facts straight.)

“The reality is the president of the United States has every right to say to another leader of a foreign country, ‘You got to straighten up before we give you a lot of money,’ ” Giuliani said. “It is perfectly appropriate for [Trump] to ask a foreign government to investigate this massive crime that was made by a former vice president.”

He tweeted the same sentiment shortly thereafter, despite the allegations involving the Bidens being highly speculative and far from proved.

Over the last 36 hours, speculation about the countries to which Trump might have made problematic promises has focused on Russia, to which Trump disclosed highly classified information in a 2017 Oval Office meeting and has sought curiously friendly relations, and North Korea, with which Trump has pursued an elusive nuclear deal and made significant diplomatic concessions. If Trump made any quid pro quos with either, given their statuses as antagonistic foreign powers and even enemies, it would have been bad.

But when it comes to countries with which such a “promise” might have been particularly self-serving for Trump, Ukraine is near the top of the list.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 16541
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Senate Democrats release list of climate studies buried by Trump administration
« Reply #3927 on: September 23, 2019, 05:04:22 AM »
Senate Democrats release list of climate studies buried by Trump administration


Sen. Debbie Stabenow released the list of more 1,400 climate studies that Department of Agriculture researchers have published. | Mark Wilson/Getty Images


By HELENA BOTTEMILLER EVICH

09/19/2019 01:48 PM EDT

Updated 09/19/2019 02:57 PM EDT

Senate Democrats released on Thursday a report outlining dozens of times the Trump administration has censored or minimized climate science across the federal government at agencies including the EPA and the Department of Homeland Security.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, also publicly released a list of more than 1,400 climate studies that Department of Agriculture researchers have published during the current administration after POLITICO reported that USDA buried its own research and failed to release its plan to study the issue. The matter is increasingly urgent for farmers and ranchers dealing with erratic and extreme weather.

The trove of studies by USDA researchers carry warnings about climate change that the government is largely not communicating to farmers and ranchers or the public. The list published includes research showing that climate change is likely to drive down yields for some crops, harm milk production, and lead to a drop in nutrient density for key crops like rice and wheat.

“These studies show how climate change is affecting crop production, disrupting how food is grown and increasing risk to communities,” Stabenow said during a press conference on Thursday. Stabenow also serves as chairwoman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, the research arm of Senate Democrats.

The Michigan Democrat called it “outrageous” that “critical information for communities, for farmers, for those of us who care deeply about what’s happening to agriculture, these are not being shared with the people who need to know but they are being paid for by them, as taxpayers.”

A spokesperson for the Agriculture Department said it's "false" to suggest that the department is suppressing science.

“We have repeatedly provided the Senate Agriculture Committee with evidence to the contrary, and the department has been transparent and communicative to the committee in response to their questions on research," the spokesperson said, in an email. "The list of studies linked in the report were provided by the USDA to the committee and are all publicly available."

The move comes as climate change is becoming an increasingly prominent issue in the Democratic presidential primary. The report was released ahead of several planned climate protests Friday and the United National Climate Action Summit in New York this weekend.

In their report, Senate Democrats allege that the Trump administration has repeatedly gone out of its way to undermine climate science.

The report pointed to President Donald Trump falsely claiming that Alabama had been under threat from Hurricane Dorian and his subsequent insistence on overruling the forecasting of NOAA scientists. It also noted the government released the Fourth National Climate Assessment — which warned of billions in damages and sweeping effects to public health and infrastructure — the day after Thanksgiving when most Americans are not paying attention to the news.

The roundup includes numerous instances where agencies, including FEMA, EPA, Department of Homeland Security and Interior Department, have dropped mention of climate change from key reports or websites.

“Frankly, this is just an overview because it’s being done every day,” Stabenow told reporters.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 16541
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
Trump Blurts Out to Reporters That He Pressured Ukraine to Smear Biden
« Reply #3928 on: September 23, 2019, 04:20:21 PM »
Trump Blurts Out to Reporters That He Pressured Ukraine to Smear Biden



Over the past two days, President Trump has drained most of the remaining mystery from the world’s least mysterious crime drama. In a series of comments to the media, the president casually revealed that yes, he had pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Joe Biden, and yes, he had tied that demand to military aid.

An old editor of mine who once worked the police beat for a newspaper told me most murder investigations are solved with the police arriving at the crime scene to see a man holding a gun and weeping about why he did it. The political ecosystem, though, is not structured to handle such cut-and-dried scenarios. Concerns must be raised, hearings must be held, money must be followed.

Mitt Romney commendably broke ranks to denounce Trump’s abuse of his authority to discredit Biden. Yet he felt it necessary to phrase his condemnation in the hypothetical. “If the President asked or pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival, either directly or through his personal attorney, it would be troubling in the extreme,” Romney tweeted. “Critical for the facts to come out.”

If? The facts have come out! Rudy Giuliani literally told a newspaper reporter last spring that he was pressuring Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden (“We’re meddling in an investigation”) and that he was doing so not for the U.S. government but for the personal benefit of Trump, his client. (“I’m going to give [Ukraine] reasons why they shouldn’t stop [the investigation] because that information will be very, very helpful to my client and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”)

So Trump’s campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden, through the grossly improper channel of his personal lawyer, was established fact. The only remaining question was how overtly Trump used the lure of military aid to compel Ukraine’s cooperation. The Washington Post reported a couple of weeks ago that the aid was being held up as leverage. Trump has blurted out his scheme to the media in recent days.

Trump “speaks in code,” as his former fixer, Michael Cohen, testified. He avoids direct corrupt offers, but makes his intentions plain. As he revealingly told a reporter, “I did not make a statement that ‘you have to do this or I’m not going to give you aid.’ I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t do that.” The code is Trump’s plausible deniability. But in several comments, he has translated it, eliminating that deniability.

Yesterday, a reporter asked Trump if he had mentioned the name of Joe Biden or his son in his phone call with Ukraine’s president. Trump did not answer directly but did make it clear that “corruption” was his code word for his demand to investigate Biden. He also made clear that he connected the Biden investigation to aid for Ukraine:

Reporter: Can you say whether, on this call, you raised Joe Biden or his son’s name with Ukraine?

Trump: Well, I don’t even want to mention it, but certainly I’d have every right to. I’d have every right to. If there’s corruption, and we’re paying lots of money to a country, we don’t want a country we’re giving massive aid to to be corrupting our system, and we don’t want it to be corrupt in any way.

Trump’s decoding is crucial because it removes his mob-boss-like ability to give himself plausible deniability for his threats. He’s making it explicit that his references to corruption in Ukraine mean investigating “bogus” charges against Biden.

Also Sunday, Trump told reporters his conversation was “largely” devoted to the subject of “corruption” — i.e., Biden:

The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place, was largely the fact that we don’t want our people like Vice-President Biden and his son [contributing] to the corruption already in Ukraine.
Trump has previously dismissed the Wall Street Journal report that he repeated his demand to investigate Biden about eight times, but Trump’s own account is that the conversation was “largely” devoted to this very topic!

And in remarks to reporters today, he reaffirmed his belief that it is proper to withhold aid from Ukraine to compel the country to investigate Biden (again expressed through the code of “corruption”):

It’s very important to talk about corruption. If you don’t talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?
Also this morning, Giuliani refused to say if it was totally untrue that Trump had threatened to withhold aid from Ukraine:

Bartiromo: Did the president threaten to cut off aid to Ukraine?
Giuliani: No, no. That was a false story.
Bartiromo: 100 percent?
Giuliani: Well, I can’t tell you if it’s 100 percent.
Everybody seems to want the mystery to string out longer so Democrats can build support for impeachment and the handful of concerned Republicans can test public opinion. But what if Trump and Giuliani don’t want to hide it?

This column has been updated.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

  • Administrator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 16541
    • View Profile
    • Doomstead Diner
The Air Force Is Deploying Its First Drone-Killing Microwave Weapon
« Reply #3929 on: September 24, 2019, 06:02:11 PM »
The Air Force Is Deploying Its First Drone-Killing Microwave Weapon
The U.S. Air Force is sending PHASER overseas—the first direct energy weapon ever fielded and a huge milestone for the controversial weapon system.


Drone attacks, including the recent swarm strike in Saudi Arabia, are increasing, and so is the Pentagon's interest in killing them.

Yesterday afternoon, the Pentagon notified Congress of its purchase of a microwave weapon system designed to knock down swarms of enemy drones with pulses of energy. The purchase comes with an intent to deploy the PHASER system overseas for a year-long assessment, making it the first directed energy defense weapon to ever be fielded.

The U.S. Air Force spent $16.28 million for one prototype PHASER high power microwave system for a “field assessment for purposes of experimentation” in an unspecified location outside the U.S. The test is “expected to be completed by Dec. 20, 2020,” making the overseas deployment “against real-world or simulated hostile vignettes” imminent.

There are several directed energy weapons that the Air Force is buying to test their effectiveness in the field, and officials say some will be on the frontlines in tense areas of the globe where enemy drones are becoming a threat, includes North Korea, Africa, the Ukraine and—most recently—the Middle East.

“At the moment we have awarded multiple DE systems for use in our field assessment overseas and are working to support multiple bases and areas of responsibility,” says Michael Jirjis, who is lead on the PHASER experiment, told Popular Mechanics. “We can’t say which specific locations at this time.”

THE PHASER SYSTEM, BY VIRTUE OF TIMING, COULD NOW LAND AT THE FOREFRONT OF AN INTERNATIONAL CRISIS.
Officials at the Air Force and Raytheon, the system’s manufacturer, say the purchase has been underway for a while, but the timing of the announcement couldn’t make it more urgent. The recent swarm attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities has highlighted the risk and drawn a stern response from the Pentagon.

“This is not the reaction of just a few events but the realization of a growing need over the past few years,” says Jirjis.


Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Friday that the U.S. would be moving enhanced air defenses into the region. He didn’t offer any specifics, saying the Pentagon is working with the Saudis to come up with a support plan. The PHASER system, by virtue of timing, could now land at the forefront of an international crisis.

“It is a remarkable coincidence because this has been in the works between the Air Force and Raytheon essentially since an experiment at White Sands [Missile Range] late last year,” says Don Sullivan, Raytheon missile systems' chief technologist for directed energy.

Those who sell drone-killing weapons keep a sharp eye on the warning signs, and there were many that preceded the attack in Saudi Arabia.

“There are fairly recent incidents, for example in Yemen where a very large drone with a high explosive payload killed about 40 people, at a prayer ground of all places. And that was on YouTube,” Sullivan says. “It was a real eye-opener. What happened in Saudi over the weekend was kind of that raised to the nth degree.”

Finding Its Target

 A ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle launches from its catapult.
This ScanEagle represents the maximum size target that PHASER can take down.

The system uses microwaves to disable Class One and Class Two drones, ones that are less than 55 pounds and fly at altitudes of 1,200 to 3,500 feet at speeds between 100 and 200 knots. Think RQ-11 Raven at the low end and a ScanEagle as the maximum-sized target.

There were an estimated 20 drones and cruise missiles used to attack Saudi Arabia, and some of the drones may have been small enough for PHASER to have disabled them. The HPM system is not known to work against cruise missiles, according the Air Force and Raytheon.

PHASER is part of a layered approach to defending against unmanned aerial threats. Raytheon and others are developing suicide drones, laser systems, and even nets to down drones of various shapes and sizes. The use of directed energy to face this threat is giving that weapon system and its boosters a long-awaited win. In short, there is finally a threat fit for these weapons.

“Up until very recently it's been mostly a technology push rather than a user pull,” says Sullivan, who has been involved with it for more than 40 years. “There wasn't sufficient user pull until the UAS, and in particular swarms of UAS, have reared their ugly heads as a real threat.”

How It Works

PHASER is high-powered microwaves cannon that emits radio frequencies in a conical beam. It doesn’t cook a drone with heat. Instead, the weapon disrupts or destroys their circuits with a burst of overwhelming energy.

“It's not a thermal effect, it's an electric field effect that is basically imposed on the electronics to either upset or permanently damage them,” says Sullivan. “And the effect is essentially instantaneous.”

Lasers need to fix on a target to burn them, but HPM pulses are shorter than one microsecond. That’s all it takes to disable a drone. “If you could see the microwaves, it would look very much like a strobe light,” Sullivan says.

Operators need positive identification before using the weapon, so the “kill chain” starts with detection from radar and then a camera or other sensor. The PHASER antenna uses that data to aim at the enemy drones. “So wherever the electro-optical and infrared sensor is looking, that's where our antenna is pointed.“

Air Force personnel trained and used PHASER during exercises to successfully down drones, which proved to be a key to convincing the service to buy it. “We've taken down multiple rotary wing and multiple fixed wing drones simultaneously at different experiments,” Sullivan says.

PHASER frying a rotary drone mid-flight.
Microwave weapons have traditionally been hampered by the fact that they don’t discriminate targets—bathing an area with them could damage friendly hardware along with a foe’s. But with attacks involving swarms of small UAVs becoming popular, that vice has become a virtue since PHASER can attack multiple targets simultaneously and doesn’t run out of ammunition.

There may be other benefits other than anti-drone screens, but no one is talking about them publicly. “PHASER also has other applications that can be utilized for defensive purposes,” Sullivan admits. “I can't get into other applications outside of counter UAS because of classification reasons. We're not clear to discuss that at the moment.”

While the dream of Raytheon and others is to create a family of systems that can thwart drones, the systems are being assessed on their own. “At the moment, the systems we are pursuing are focused on providing a stand alone capability,” Jirjis says. “However, we have been working across Air Force to understand how directed energy ties into the larger air defense picture for both point and area defense.”




For Sullivan, this week’s milestone military purchase is the result of four decades of championing the technology. He was responsible for starting the Air Force high power microwave (HPM) program while on active duty as a captain at Kirtland Air Force Base. He then joined K-Tech, a small Albuquerque–based company that was working in the microwave field. Raytheon acquired K-Tech in 2011 and then funded PHASER as an independent research and development project.

“This is sort of a historic inflection point where directed energy is actually getting out in the field and being utilized,” he says. “It’s certainly been a dream in the high energy laser community that this would happen.”

During his career a slew of other directed energy programs received big funding and delivered small results. The Reagan-era Airborne Laser, an airplane equipped with a laser that targeted ballistic missiles, went nowhere after billions in development and cost overruns. The Active Denial System, which heats skin as a non-lethal crowd control device, was built and delivered but never used in theater due to its controversial nature.

High Power Microwave weapons were not immune from the curse. The Air Force Research Laboratory’s developed a HPM weapon called MAXPOWER that detonated roadside bombs at a distance, but it was too big to send into the field and funding dried up.

“The U.S. military has a long and complicated history in developing directed energy weapons,” notes one 2018 report by the Congressional Research Service. “Many past efforts have failed for a variety of reasons and not all failures were attributed to scientific or technological challenges.”

Advances in electronics and solid-state lasers have enabled directed energy to redeem its reputation. “At present, a number of U.S. military DE weapons-related programs are beginning to show promise, such as the Navy’s Laser Weapon System (LaWs), the first ever Department of Defense laser weapon to be deployed and approved for operational use,” the report says. LaWs is expected to see service on the decks of warships in 2021.

The growing drone threat may help sell other directed energy weapons. This past month, the Air Force purchased two prototype high energy laser systems, designed to burn single drones from an emitter mounted on a vehicle. The Army also chose Lockheed Martin over Raytheon for its own anti-drone, high-energy laser weapon development, which has an expected 2022 debut.

THE LASERS ARE COMING

But PHASER is heading to the field this year, ahead of them all, making it a trailblazer for other directed energy weapons. If the technology has found a home, it would open up more opportunities for Sullivan to improve the system.

“We already have multiple improvements, you know, plan for the system that we've kind of had in our hip pocket for the last couple of years. So we're hoping that not only will we get to field the existing technology, but the improvements to that technology can be developed rapidly and lead to an enhanced capability.”

For Sullivan, it’s a chance at redemption after decades of chasing what some labeled an impossible task.

“We're just incredibly satisfied,” Sullivan says. “We have a real sense of success and accomplishment that our system will be the first of its kind to go overseas."
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
73 Replies
26581 Views
Last post March 02, 2019, 12:54:20 PM
by azozeo
0 Replies
723 Views
Last post July 01, 2018, 08:07:18 PM
by Palloy2
0 Replies
423 Views
Last post August 05, 2019, 03:51:00 AM
by RE