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[Markets] Air Force Conducts Ground Test Of Hypersonic X-60A Missile Air Force Conducts Ground Test Of Hypersonic X-60A Missile

President Trump revealed earlier this month that the US is currently developing hypersonic missiles and touted that the weapons were "big, powerful, lethal, and fast."

Trump's mention of hypersonic missiles occurred during his national address last Wednesday as he spoke about escalating tensions with Iran.

"Our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal, and fast, "Trump said. 

"Under construction are many hypersonic missiles. The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it. We do not want to use it. American strength, both military and economic, is the best deterrent," he added.

The hypersonic missile under development that President Trump was likely referencing is the US Air Force Research Laboratory's (AFRL) X-60A, an air-launched, single-stage rocket designed to reach speeds of Mach 5 to March 8, reported Flight Global

AFRL moved a step closer to initial flight tests after it recently conducted test firings of its engines while on the ground at Cecil Spaceport in Jacksonville, Florida.

"This test series was a critical step in reducing risk and gathering necessary system integration data in preparation for our upcoming flight tests," said Barry Hellman, AFRL X-60A program manager.

The X-60A has been designed to be air-launched from the undercarriage of a NASA C-20A, a military version of the Gulfstream III. 

The initial flight test could take place in the second half of this year: "When we go to flight later this year, we hope to demonstrate the capability of the X-60A to provide affordable access to hypersonic flight conditions, which will position AFRL to deliver an innovative test capability for the Air Force and other [US Department of Defense] organizations," Hellman said. 

The hypersonic race is well underway. It has been said the US is falling behind the curve in hypersonic development as Russia and China race ahead with test flights and deployments. 

The next global conflict will be fought with fifth-generation stealth fighters and hypersonic missiles. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 01/18/2020 - 09:55
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Published:1/18/2020 9:09:55 AM
[Aerospace] SpaceX’s Crew Dragon astronaut spacecraft has a key launch Saturday – here’s what’s going down SpaceX and NASA are getting ready for a key test of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon commercial crew spacecraft on Saturday, and this should be the last major milestone that SpaceX has to pass in terms of demonstration missions before actual crew climb aboard the spaceship for a trip to the International Space Station. Starting at 8 […] Published:1/17/2020 4:05:13 PM
[Markets] 2020: The Lowest Solar Activity In Over 200 Years 2020: The Lowest Solar Activity In Over 200 Years

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

As we move further into 2020, solar activity dwindles.  This year, solar activity will be marked as the lowest in over 200 years. The low in the sun’s 11-year cycle will also have at least some repercussions for the climate here on Earth.

On December 20, 2019, Iceland received one of the largest snow storms in its history. The so-called “10-year storm,” brought winds of 100 miles per hour (161 km/h), with one weather station reporting gusts of up to 149 mph (240 km/h), according to a report by Interesting Engineering. 

Iceland’s, Europe’s and North America’s weather have historically been tied to the sunspot activity of the Sun. According to NASA, in 2020, the Sun, which is currently in solar cycle number 25, will reach its lowest activity in over 200 years. That means “space weather” will be favorable for exploration beyond Earth, yet it could also very well mean we should prepare for odd or different weather patterns.

The solar cycle is a periodic 11-year fluctuation in the Sun’s magnetic field, during which its North and South poles trade places. This has an enormous effect on the number and size of sunspots, the level of solar radiation, and the ejection of solar material comprised of flares and coronal loops. –Interesting Engineering. 

When solar activity gets really low, it can have the effect of a “mini ice age.” The period between 1645 and 1715 was marked by a prolonged sunspot minimum, and this corresponded to a downturn in temperatures in Europe and North America. Named after astronomers Edward Maunder and his wife Annie Russell Maunder, this period became known as the Maunder Minimum. It is also known as “The Little Ice Age.”

Solar Minimum Madness: Is Thanksgiving’s Winter Wonderland A Preview Of The Bitterly Cold Winter To Come?

Predictions for solar cycle #25 made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), NASA and the International Solar Energy Society (ISES) anticipate a deep minimum and a maximum that will occur between the years 2023 and 2026. During that maximum, they predict the Sun will have between 95 and 130 sunspots.

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Just don't tell Greta that climate change could be related to solar activity... and not Trump flying Air Force One to murder koala bears...

Tyler Durden Tue, 01/14/2020 - 18:25
Published:1/14/2020 5:44:11 PM
[Markets] Glacier Park In Montana Set To Remove "Glaciers Will All Be Gone By 2020" Signs Glacier Park In Montana Set To Remove "Glaciers Will All Be Gone By 2020" Signs

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

Montana’s Glacier National Park is being forced to remove all signs that read “glaciers will all be gone by 2020,” after the doomsday scenario didn’t happen.

Some of the signs were already removed last year as it became clear the prediction wasn’t going to unfold.

Now the rest of the signs will have to be taken down too.

Glacier National Park spokeswoman Gina Kurzmen “told MTN News that the latest research shows shrinking, but in ways much more complex than what was predicted. Because of this, the park must update all signs around the park stating all glaciers will be melted by 2020,” reports 8KPAX.

In the late 90’s and early 2000s, scientists predicted that man-made global warming would cause melting glaciers, leading to rapidly rising sea levels that would sink coastal cities and towns.

The more dire forecasts have proven to be totally inaccurate and some glaciers are now growing.

Back in June, NASA reported that the Jakobshavn Glacier in western Greenland had thickened and “has grown for the third year in a row.”

The glacier prediction is by no means the only forecast global warming alarmists have got spectacularly wrong.

At the end of the 70’s, climate experts said that a new ice age was coming. It didn’t happen.

Paul Erlich’s prediction that hundreds of millions of people would die of starvation due to crop failure by the 1980’s also didn’t happen.

The 2004 prediction that major European cities would be underwater and that Britain would be plunged into a Siberian climate by 2020 didn’t happen.

Al Gore’s doomsday warning that the Arctic would have ice free summers by 2013 didn’t happen either.

Maybe since these “experts” been caught lying time and time again, we should stop listening to them.

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Tyler Durden Thu, 01/09/2020 - 14:40
Published:1/9/2020 1:43:06 PM
[Markets] "It's Like An Atomic Bomb" - Australia Deploys Military As Monstrous Storm Creates It's Own Weather Crisis "It's Like An Atomic Bomb" - Australia Deploys Military As Monstrous Storm Creates It's Own Weather Crisis

Authored by Elias Marat via TheMindUnleashed.com,

Australia’s government has announced that it would call up 3,000 military reservists to confront an unprecedented bushfire crisis that is producing nightmarish “firenados” - cyclonic fire-tornadoes - and conditions that some are comparing to the aftermath of nuclear warfare.

On Saturday, beleaguered Prime Minister Scott Morrison sought to reassure the country’s population that his government would take unprecedented measures to contain the fires, which have raged since September. According to AFP, Morrison said:

“Today’s decision puts more boots on the ground, puts more planes in the sky, puts more ships at sea.” 

The addition of 3,000 reservists to firefighting efforts, which have already seen the deployment of roughly 2,000 military personnel, amounts to what authorities say is most likely the largest maritime rescue operation in Australia’s history, reports the New York Times.

NASA issued this stunning satellite-based visualization of the state of the fires in Australia...

Military aircraft, naval ships, and other materiel will also be made available to assist evacuation and firefighting efforts.

Defense Minister Linda Reynolds said:

“The government has not taken this decision lightly … It is the first time that reserves have been called out in this way in living memory.”

The environmental calamity has been stoked by a combination of extreme winds, record-shattering heat waves, and drought-parched forests, grasslands, and brush.

Australia’s bushfires have also grown so monstrous that they are generating their own weather in the form of pyro-cumulonimbus clouds - dry thunderstorms that create more fires - according to Victoria’s Bureau of Meteorology. Fire-generated thunderstorms have appeared over the fires in two different locations. NASA describes them as the “fire-breathing dragon of clouds.”

The storms have further introduced an unpredictable dynamic to the spread of fires and rapid, erratic changes, CNN reports. Bureau of Meteorology spokesman Neil Bennett told Australia’s ABC:

“The prediction of fire weather in terms of wind is critical and when you’ve got a highly variable wind environment as you do with a thunderstorm, if you have that in the fire environment, those winds become very, very difficult to predict.”

The dry thunderstorms have also triggered cyclonic fire-tornadoes, or “firenados,” which have ripped through arid regions of southern Australia in recent days.

On Monday, firefighter Samuel McPaul was killed in “truly horrific” incident when extreme weather produced by the fire lifted his 12-ton fire truck into the air and dumped it on its roof. Two other firefighters on the scene are being treated for serious burns due to the “freakish” weather incident.

Shane Fitzsimmons, the New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner, was visibly shaken when he announced how the truck was flipped in what he described as a “pyro-convective line” of “cyclonic type winds.” He said:

“The local crews that were able to catch up with him in the field at the accident scene describe what they experienced as truly horrific. They described it as an extraordinary wind event, describing it as a fire tornado.

We have a completely devastated family, a devastated local community at what just has been an extraordinary loss.”

As of Saturday, over 23 lives have been claimed by the deadly fires, which have burned over 12 million acres of land, an area larger than Switzerland. On Saturday, Fire Commissioner of the Rural Fire Service in New South Wales (NSW), Shane Fitzsimmons, confirmed to reporters that over 148 active fires continue to burn in his state, 12 of which are at emergency levels. Meanwhile, in Victoria, authorities say that 50 active fires continue to burn.

Ecologists fear that nearly 500 million mammals, reptiles and birds—including 8,000 koalas—are estimated to have been killed, although the current death toll is impossible to calculate. The massive loss of life threatens to forever tip the balance for entire species of animals and plants on an island continent where 87 percent of wildlife is endemic to the country, meaning it can only be found on Australia.

Kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, wombats, potoroos, bandicoots, echidnas, possums, and other species all have populations that live in regions currently being devastated by the fires—and because the fires have extended to the wetlands, dry eucalyptus forests, and even rainforests, the animals have no place to find refuge.

Jim Radford, a research fellow at La Trobe University in Melbourne, told the Times:

“We’ve never seen fires like this, not to this extent, not all at once, and the reservoir of animals that could come and repopulate the areas, they may not be there.”

Many experts are using terms to describe the crisis that would have previously been unimaginable. New Zealand Herald reports that Andrew Constance, the transport minister in NSW, told ABC radio:

“I’ve got to be honest with you, this isn’t a bushfire, it’s an atomic bomb.

It’s indescribable the hell it’s caused and the devastation it’s caused.”

Perhaps this will add some more context...

Tyler Durden Sun, 01/05/2020 - 21:30
Published:1/5/2020 8:48:23 PM
[Markets] The Great Russian Election-Hacking Myth The Great Russian Election-Hacking Myth

Authored by 'TheDarkMan' via TheDuran.com,

The claim that Russia somehow interfered with the 2016 American Presidential election (and was thereby responsible for the ascent of Donald Trump) has been parroted incessantly by both the mainstream media and leading Democrats, including of course Hillary Clinton. While many people believe this claim, Mrs Clinton doesn’t simply blame Russia for her election loss but the world and his dog, as can be seen from the above cartoon.

Though we are now in 2020, many leading Democrats and a substantial tranche of the American media are still replaying the 2016 election, and if their attention has switched to Ukraine, their pronouncements contain the same inference, namely that Trump is being assisted by foreigners, and should he triumph again in November, his Presidency will still be illegitimate. What though is the evidence for Russian interference, and how was this interference carried out?

The evidence, such as it is, is that a company/organisation called the Internet Research Agency paid for a number of advertisements on social media. This evidence is compelling, although anyone who has seen these advertisements can only wonder how they were supposed to have influenced the election to Trump’s benefit. Lee Camp has argued that the Internet Research Agency is nothing more than a troll farm that was generating memes in order to attract clients. In view of the puerile nature of some of these advertisements, it is difficult to disagree with him.

In an earlier age, both the cinema and the Western press portrayed Russia agents as sinister and deadly men and women who would kill without conscience. They travelled on professionally forged documents, used sophisticated weapons, and were totally loyal to the Kremlin. Are we now to believe James Bond’s deadliest enemy is a troll who sits behind a keyboard all day long hoping to dissuade people from voting Democrat by posting cartoons augmented by subtle propaganda? Apparently so.

There is also the little matter of the hacked e-mails, but these were not hacked from a US Government network, rather they were  from John Podesta’s Gmail account, and one of Hillary Clinton’s accounts hosted by her (illegal) private server. The hack of Podesta’s account was effected by a phisher. If you use e-mail a lot you’ll quite likely receive many such fake e-mails every week, although you may not notice those that are sent directly to your spam folder. Mrs Clinton’s account was hacked by someone in China, possibly an agency of the Chinese Government, though it would be just as unfair to point the finger directly at Xi Jiping as at Vladimir Putin.

The other alleged hack was shown by William Binney to have been not a hack but a leak of information. The probable culprit was Seth Rich, who was murdered July 10, 2016 in strange circumstances.  Although claims about his murder have been dismissed as a conspiracy theory, any such theory is a lot more plausible than most of the garbage that has been peddled about Trump and the Kremlin.

Is it then possible that Russia or any other outside agent could have interfered with the elections in a more direct manner, and could perhaps do so again? The only way to do this would be to tamper with the vote count electronically. It remains to be seen how this could be done, but as far as votes are tampered with at all, this appears to be a purely Democratic pastime. In June last year, under pressure from Judicial Watch, California began a purge of up to a million and a half “inactive” voters from its rolls. Why did it take a court action to compel this? Clearly because the people running this particular area – Los Angeles County – felt an unpurged roll was preferable to a purged one. Kevin McCarthy is the Republican Congressman for Los Angeles County; all the others are Democrats. Including Adam Schiff! Only two of the Districts fourteen senators are Republicans.

While Russian interference with voting sounds and is extremely improbable, the actual hacking of American Government websites and those of commercial organisations is something that is done routinely by all manner of actors, not all of them hostile but clearly all of them unwelcome (with one exception).

Here are a few examples:

  • In March 1995, a Russian by the name of Vladimir Levin rather than Vladimir Putin was arrested at Stansted Airport on suspicion of hacking into Citibank and stealing money, ?a massive financial fraud. He was eventually extradited to the United States where after a plea bargain he was sentenced to three years behind bars and ordered to pay restitution.

  • Scotsman Gary McKinnon hacked into no fewer than 97 US military and NASA computers over a thirteen month period in 2001–2002. He said he was looking for evidence of UFOs and other fringe subjects. His was said to have been the biggest military hack of all time.

  • In October 2012, the South Carolina Department Of Revenue was hacked; this affected over three and a half million accounts.

  • In August 2013, hackers targeted Yahoo. Although based in the US, this Internet giant has branches worldwide. According to a report by National Public Radio four years later, it was likely that every Yahoo! account in existence at the time had been hacked.

  • Also in 2013, the social network site Tumblr was hacked, which led to the compromise of over 65 million passwords.

  • In May 2014, eBay was hacked, and 145 million users had their data compromised.

  • Navinder Singh Sarao was said to have helped trigger a multibillion dollar Wall Street crash. The so-called Hound Of Hounslow was living with his parents at the time of his arrest in April 2015. Although not a hacker, he made (and apparently lost) millions by manipulating markets with a sophisticated computer program of his own design.

  • In October 2018, digitaltrends dot com reported that a hack of the Pentagon had compromised the personal information of over thirty thousand staff. Has Rachel Maddow even mentioned this?

  • Finally, the Pentagon is so aware of its vulnerability to hackers that in 2016 it invited people to hack into it – the one exception alluded to above. The winner of the Hack The Pentagon Bounty Program was a teenager; David Dworken received a share of $75,000 prize money.

All this tends to undermine the ludicrous claims of Rachel Maddow and her fellow cranks that Russia and Russia alone is any sort of threat to America cyber security.

Tyler Durden Thu, 01/02/2020 - 18:45
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Published:1/2/2020 6:05:07 PM
[Markets] Breaking The Ice: Mapping A Changing Arctic Breaking The Ice: Mapping A Changing Arctic

The Arctic is changing. As retreating ice cover makes this region more accessible, Visual Capitalist's Nicholas LePan notes that nations with Arctic real estate are thinking of developing these subzero landscapes and the resources below.

As the Arctic evolves, a vast amount of resources will become more accessible and longer shipping seasons will improve Arctic logistics. But with a changing climate and increased public pressure to limit resource development in environmentally sensitive regions, the future of northern economic activity is far from certain.

This week’s Chart of the Week shows the location of major oil and gas fields in the Arctic and the possible new trade routes through this frontier.

A Final Frontier for Undiscovered Resources?

Underneath the Arctic Circle lies massive oil and natural gas formations. The United States Geological Survey estimates that the Arctic contains approximately 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil resources and about 30% of its undiscovered natural gas resources.

So far, most exploration in the Arctic has occurred on land. This work produced the Prudhoe Bay Oil Field in Alaska, the Tazovskoye Field in Russia, and hundreds of smaller fields, many of which are on Alaska’s North Slope, an area now under environmental protection.

Land accounts for about 1/3 of the Arctic’s area and is thought to hold about 16% of the Arctic’s remaining undiscovered oil and gas resources. A further 1/3 of the Arctic area is comprised of offshore continental shelves, which are thought to contain enormous amounts of resources but remain largely unexplored by geologists.

The remaining 1/3 of the Arctic is deep ocean waters measuring thousands of feet in depth.

The Arctic circle is about the same geographic size as the African continent-about 6% of Earth’s surface area-yet it holds an estimated 22% of Earth’s oil and natural gas resources. This paints a target on the Arctic for exploration and development, especially with shorter seasons of ice coverage improving ocean access.

Thawing Ice Cover: Improved Ocean Access, New Trading Routes

As Arctic ice melts, sea routes will stay navigable for longer periods, which could drastically change international trade and shipping. September ice coverage has decreased by more than 25% since 1979, although the area within the Arctic Circle is still almost entirely covered with ice from November to July.

Typically shipping to Japan from Rotterdam would use the Suez Canal and take about 30 days, whereas a route from New York would use the Panama Canal and take about 25 days.

But if the Europe-Asia trip used the Northern Sea Route along the northern coast of Russia, the trip would last 18 days and the distance would shrink from ~11,500 nautical miles to ~6,900 nautical miles. For the U.S.-Asia trip through the Northwest Passage, it would take 21 days, rather than 25.

Control of these routes could bring significant advantages to countries and corporations looking for a competitive edge.

Competing Interests: Arctic Neighbors

Eight countries lay claim to land that lies within the Arctic Circle: Canada, Denmark (through its administration of Greenland), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States.

There is no consistent agreement among these nations regarding the claims to oil and gas beneath the Arctic Ocean seafloor. However, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provides each country an exclusive economic zone extending 200 miles out from its shoreline and up to 350 miles, under certain geological conditions.

Uncertain geology and politics has led to overlapping territorial disputes over how each nation defines and maps its claims based on the edge of continental margins. For example, Russia claims that their continental margin follows the Lomonosov Ridge all the way to the North Pole. In another, both the U.S. and Canada claim a portion of the Beaufort Sea, which is thought to contain significant oil and natural gas resources.

To Develop or Not to Develop

Just because the resources are there does not mean humans have to exploit them, especially given oil’s environmental impacts. Canada’s federal government has already returned security deposits that oil majors had paid to drill in Canadian Arctic waters, which are currently off limits until at least 2021.

In total, the Government of Canada returned US$327 million worth of security deposits, or 25% of the money oil companies pledged to spend on exploration in the Beaufort Sea. In addition, Goldman Sachs announced that it would not finance any projects in the U.S.’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The retreat of Western economic interests in the Arctic may leave the region to Russia and China, countries with less strict environmental regulations.

Russia has launched an ambitious plan to remilitarize the Arctic. Specifically, Russia is searching for evidence to prove its territorial claims to additional portions of the Arctic, so that it can move its Arctic borderline — which currently measures over 14,000 miles in length — further north.

In a changing Arctic, this potentially resource-rich region could become another venue for geopolitical tensions, again testing whether humans can be proper stewards of the natural world.

Tyler Durden Tue, 12/24/2019 - 21:50
Published:12/24/2019 9:01:01 PM
[Markets] The First Ever Mission To Remove Space Junk From Orbit Has Just Been Commissioned The First Ever Mission To Remove Space Junk From Orbit Has Just Been Commissioned

Authored by Manuel Garcia Aguilar via TheMindUnleashed.com,

By September of 2013, there were already more than 500,000 pieces of debris, or “space junk” orbiting Earth and that number is still increasing.

The bits of junk travel at speeds up to 17,500 mph—fast enough for a relatively small piece of orbital debris to damage a satellite or a spacecraft. This is also potential danger to space vehicles, but especially to the International Space Station, space shuttles, and other spacecraft with humans aboard.

Pixabay.

“The greatest risk to space missions comes from non-trackable debris,” said Nicholas Johnson, NASA chief scientist for orbital debris.

As a result of this risk, the European Space Agency signed a debris-removal contract with Swiss startup ClearSpace tasking the company with de-orbiting a substantial piece of a Vega rocket left in orbit in 2013.

This mission, planned for launch in 2025, will be the first of its kind planned with the sole purpose of cleaning rather than exploring space.

The spacecraft is still unnamed and will be designed to have a “high level of autonomy.” The entire craft should weigh less than 400 kilograms.

Chemical propulsion appears to be the choice of the engineers for the first spacecraft, but future models could employ a mix of chemical and electrical thrusters.

As mentioned before, there is one main target here and it is called Vespa, the leftover remnant from ESA’s Vega rocket launch in 2013. This piece of junk weighs roughly the same as a small satellite and has a simple shape. This would make it easy for the robotic arms to grab. Once it’s in the arms of the collector, it will be dragged out of orbit and allowed to burn up in the atmosphere.

Unfortunately, this will also destroy the collector, but in the future, the agency hopes to improve this technology with future plans to de-orbit multiple objects without also destroying themselves.

“And in the coming years, the number of satellites will increase by an order of magnitude, with multiple mega-constellations made up of hundreds or even thousands of satellites planned for low Earth orbit to deliver wide-coverage, low-latency telecommunications, and monitoring services. The need is clear for a ‘tow truck’ to remove failed satellites from this highly trafficked region,” says Luc Piguet, founder, and CEO of ClearSpace.

So far ClearSpace has raised close to 2.3 million Swiss francs (close to $2.3 million USD) through a mix of investors and grants. The ClearSpace mission is set to cost $129 million.

Tyler Durden Sun, 12/22/2019 - 22:30
Published:12/22/2019 9:47:41 PM
[] Major failure for NASA and the Boeing Starliner spacecraft (but at least we've caught up to the Soviets!) The Boeing Starliner spacecraft safely touched down this morning at the White Sand Missile Range in New Mexico, making it the first time an "American-made, human-rated capsule has landed on land" (Congratulations, guys. We're now able to land capsules on land, just like the Soviets perfected in the 60s.):

https://twitter.com/NASA/status/1208735543657320448

Oh, and]] Published:12/22/2019 5:16:54 PM

[Markets] Boeing And NASA Report Issues With Starliner After Launch  Boeing And NASA Report Issues With Starliner After Launch 

On Friday morning, Boeing's Starliner spaceship was launched via an Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

The Starliner spaceship is designed to shuttle astronauts back and forth from Earth to the International Space Station (ISS). The test flight has no one on board and is being used to check out the flight systems.

Shortly after launch, CNBC's Jodi Gralnick has just tweeted that Boeing's Starliner spaceship "is assessing an "off-nominal insertion," meaning the crew capsule did not achieve the proper orbit."

At the moment, it's unclear if this means the Starliner's trip to the ISS has been aborted.

NASA will be holding a press conference at 9 am est. on the developments. 

How has social media responded to the incident? 

Tyler Durden Fri, 12/20/2019 - 07:52
Published:12/20/2019 7:06:19 AM
[Aerospace] Watch Boeing launch its new astronaut spacecraft to the Space Station for the first time Boeing is getting ready to launch its new passenger spacecraft for a very special mission: Its first trip to the International Space Station (ISS). The Boeing CST-100 Starliner is the company’s contribution to NASA’s commercial crew program, which will see the U.S. regain the ability to launch astronauts to space from U.S. soil for the […] Published:12/20/2019 5:02:11 AM
[Markets] "We Can't Wait To See This Bird Fly!": NASA's X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Jet Cleared For Final Assembly "We Can't Wait To See This Bird Fly!": NASA's X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Jet Cleared For Final Assembly

NASA's X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) plane has been cleared for large scale assembly, said a NASA press release, dated Dec. 12.  

NASA will build the X-59 in partnership with Lockheed Martin and start test flights in 2021. The goal of the flights is to reduce the noise a sonic boom makes to a sonic thump, or basically as loud as a car door.

Tests are expected to occur over major US metro areas as the X-59 cruises at 940 mph at 55,000 feet.

The X-59's long, slender design will allow it to reduce the loudness of a sonic boom to that of a gentle thump.

"This aircraft has the potential to transform aviation in the United States and around the world by making faster-than-sound air travel overland possible for everyone," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine recently said.

"We can't wait to see this bird fly!"

The X-59 will cost about $250 million to construct, Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works factory in Palmdale, California, will be responsible for the build. 

Skunk Works has also been responsible for developing some of the most secretive aircraft in the world, including the Lockheed U-2, Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk, and Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. 

NASA's decision to approve the X-59 for assembly is the first experimental plane to be cleared in more than three decades.

The Key Decision Point-D (KDP-D) was the last obstacle for the X-59 before officials reconvene in 4Q20 before the plane's flight in 2021. 

"With the completion of KDP-D we've shown the project is on schedule, it's well planned and on track. We have everything in place to continue this historic research mission for the nation's air-traveling public," said Bob Pearce, NASA's associate administrator for Aeronautics.

With the construction of the X-59 already underway at Skunk Works, by late 2021, the world will know if the technology can actually reduce the noise of a sonic boom. If so, then this could pave the way for the reintroduction of supersonic flight for commercial airliners by 2030. 

Tyler Durden Wed, 12/18/2019 - 23:25
Published:12/18/2019 10:26:27 PM
[Aerospace] NASA’s mission to once again fly astronauts from U.S. soil readies for key milestone with Friday launch NASA and partners Boeing and the United Launch Alliance (ULA) are gearing up for a crucial milestone moment on Friday: The ‘Orbital Flight Test’ (OFT) of the Boeing Starliner CST-100 Crew Capsule. The capsule, a spacecraft designed to carry astronauts on board from U.S. soil for the first time since the end of the Space […] Published:12/18/2019 10:26:14 AM
[Aerospace] Watch SpaceX launch a new ‘robot hotel’ and more to the Space Station live It’s take two for SpaceX’s CRS-19 mission, the 19th Commercial Resupply Mission (see how that works?) it’s flying under contract with NASA. The goal of these missions is to ferry supplies, experimental materials and other equipment to the International Space Station, where it’ll be unloaded by the astronauts living and working aboard the orbiting research […] Published:12/5/2019 7:04:17 AM
[Aerospace] NASA will launch a ‘robot hotel’ to the Space Station on its next SpaceX resupply mission NASA is going to be sending something it calls a ‘robot hotel’ to the International Space Station aboard the next commercial resupply mission, which is set to launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket this week. The robot hotel is more formally known as the “Robotic Tool Stowage” unit, or the RiTS for short because […] Published:12/3/2019 2:56:23 PM
[Gadgets] NASA’s space pallet concept could land rovers on the moon cheaply and simply Establishing an enduring presence on the Moon will mean making a lot of landings — and NASA researchers want to make those landings as reliable and cheap as possible. This robotic "pallet lander" concept would be a dead simple (as lunar landers go) way to put up to 300 kilograms of rover and payload onto the Moon's surface. Published:11/25/2019 4:45:55 PM
[Aerospace] Max Q: NASA signs up new Moon delivery companies Sign up here to receive Max Q weekly in your inbox, starting December 15. There were lot of highlights in the space industry this past week (even though a rocket launch that was supposed to happened is now pushed to Monday). The biggest news for commercial space might just be that NASA signed on five […] Published:11/24/2019 6:06:58 PM
[Left Column] Vice Climate Alert: ‘The Collapse of Civilization May Have Already Begun’

Jem Bendell, a former consultant to the United Nations and longtime Professor of Sustainability Leadership at the University of Cumbria’s Department of Business, delivered a paper in May 2019 explaining how people and communities might “adapt to climate-induced disruption.” Bendell’s thesis is not only that societal collapse due to climate change is on its way, but that it is, in effect, already here.

But climate activist scientists disagreed. 

Dr. Gavin Schmidt, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies replied: “The evidence for ‘inevitable societal collapse’ is very weak to non-existent.”

Dr. Michael Mann: “To me, this paper is a perfect storm of misguidedness and wrongheadedness."

Published:11/22/2019 5:02:01 PM
[Aerospace] NASA adds SpaceX, Blue Origin and more to list of companies set to make deliveries to the surface of the Moon NASA has added five companies to the list of vendors that are cleared to bid on contracts for the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. This list, which already includes nine companies from a previous selection process, now adds SpaceX, Blue Origin, Ceres Robotics, Sierra Nevada Corporation and Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems. All of these […] Published:11/18/2019 3:58:11 PM
[Markets] PBS Frontline's "In The Age of AI" Exposes Big-Tech's Ongoing Abuse Of Public Trust PBS Frontline's "In The Age of AI" Exposes Big-Tech's Ongoing Abuse Of Public Trust

Authored by B.N.Frank via AcivistPost.com,

You won’t see cell phones or personal computers much in movies or TV shows until the late 1990s because most people didn’t own them.  Of course most people didn’t need them either.  If you couldn’t afford a “home phone” – pay phones usually weren’t hard to find.  Anyone who needed to be “on call” – like doctors – wore pagers.

People who grew up without new technology know firsthand that it has made the world better in some ways. 

We also know that it has made it worse in others.  People who never knew the world without new technology have been conditioned to believe that all of it is necessary as well as beneficial.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  5G is very dangerous (see 1234, 56, 7, 8).  Artificial Intelligence (AI) is associated with many risks as well.

There will always be people who want more technology regardless of the human and environmental consequences.  Those kinds of people are not going to like Frontline’s “In the Age of AI”.

FRONTLINE investigates the promise and perils of artificial intelligence, from fears about work and privacy to rivalry between the U.S. and China. The documentary traces a new industrial revolution that will reshape and disrupt our lives, our jobs and our world, and allow the emergence of the surveillance society.

Tyler Durden Thu, 11/14/2019 - 22:25
Published:11/14/2019 9:32:03 PM
[Markets] America Needs A War On Waste - 100 Examples Of Federal Taxpayer Abuse America Needs A War On Waste - 100 Examples Of Federal Taxpayer Abuse

Via OpenTheBooks.com,

Dear Mr. President,

Congratulations. Unfilled jobs are at a record high. Unemployment for Black Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and those with only a high school diploma is at or near record lows. For women, near a 66-year low. For youths, a 50-year low.

Wages are increasing. Regulations are far less counterproductive. Corporate tax rates are globally competitive.

Unfortunately, the federal debt continues to explode—a lurking threat to our country as we have known it. When George W. Bush took office, the federal debt, after 225 years, was $5.7 trillion. Since then, only 20 years, the debt has exploded—quadrupled—to close to $23 trillion and is increasing about $4 billion a day. Sadly, no one in government seems to care.

Mr. President, the world is undergoing exciting changes—the Internet, the Cloud world, Big Data, 5G, the Information Age—all in the birthing process. The potential progress is beyond imagination. These changes give you the tools to tackle this lurking threat. Today, there is no reason why every government expenditure—local, state, and federal—is not online, available real time to the public via cell phone, iPad, or computer. Taxpayers should know how their every dollar is spent. It is their money. Today, we have the ability to do just that.

MR. PRESIDENT, YOU CAN CREATE A FOUR-STEP NONPARTISAN TRANSPARENCY REVOLUTION.

You can do for government what Uber and Airbnb did for their industries. They revolutionized their worlds by giving their customers detailed information instantaneously. You can do the same for your customers, the taxpayers, by giving them detailed on-line, real time information on how their money is being spent. Doing so will change who they vote for. Elected officials will be far more likely to inform their constituents of what they have done to eliminate wasted tax dollars rather than some program they put in place to buy votes. This is culture changing. Changes to the culture in government will be far more productive than a top-down budget initiative.

The Transparency Revolution could drastically reduce the cost of government. Government is a monopoly. It has an administrative class, public employee unions, lacks a profit motive, and does not have to deal with progress. This is a lethal combination when it comes to spending other people’s money. The following page represents but a small sample of wasted tax dollars.

STEP 1. PUBLICIZE EVERY WHITE HOUSE EXPENDITURE. DIRECT EVERY DEPARTMENT, EVERY AGENCY IN YOUR ADMINISTRATION TO DO THE SAME AND REPORT THEIR PROGRESS TO YOU MONTHLY.

STEP 2. BEGIN A WAR ON WASTE. Appoint a White House Efficiency Executive to examine every White House expense. Cut every dollar of waste. Have every department, every agency in your administration do the same. Report the progress to you monthly.

STEP 3. MOBILIZE EVERY GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE. Our government has many fine, dedicated public servants. They know where the waste and incompetence are. They should be encouraged to report what they see. They should be rewarded with a percentage of the realized savings with a smaller percentage going to their department head. Hold an annual recognition dinner.

STEP 4. REPORT THE PROGRESS OR LACK THEREOF TO THE PUBLIC MONTHLY FOR AT LEAST THE FIRST SIX MONTHS, THEN QUARTERLY FOR THE REST OF YOUR ADMINISTRATION. By reporting frequently, you are telling the public and your administration that the Transparency Revolution, the War on Waste, is a high, ongoing priority.

Mr. President, fiscal sanity is every bit as crucial to America’s survival as is a strong defense. There are no free lunches, even in government. As a successful businessman, you understand the importance of managing debt.

Mr. President, you told us that you were going to attack the deficit, drain the so-called Swamp. That is exactly what this Transparency Revolution will do.

*  *  *

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION PAYS TO PUT RUNNING SHRIMP ON A TREADMILL - $1.3 MILLION

FY2012-FY2017 | NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION | National Science Foundation (NSF) funded an experiment that tested how sickness impaired shrimp mobility by putting the crustaceans on a treadmill made an uproar in the media and in Congress nearly five years ago. Yet the NSF has once again given tax dollars to the same researchers to put the would-be seafood on a cardiovascular workout regime. The investigators – Louis and Karen Burnett – measure the crustaceans’ responses to low oxygen and high carbon dioxide environments in a variety of ways and would also test their reactions "when performing energetically demanding activities," according to the award abstract. "The energetically demanding activities will be conducted with the aid of a treadmill, as the technique is effective and will help to make the data comparable to previous studies," Arriens said.

LOBSTER TAIL & SNOW CRAB PURCHASES -- $25.4 MILLION

FY2017-2018 | DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE | As the fiscal year wrapped up, federal agencies celebrated by splurging on luxury food items. The Department of Defense (DOD) originally reported spending $2.3 million on snow crab, Alaskan king crab, and crab legs and claws, plus another $2.3 million on lobster tail. Additionally, agencies spent nearly $300,000 on steak (ribeye, top sirloin, and flank). However, the DOD admitted to inflated disclosures. Their updated numbers reveal lobster and crab purchases amounted to $1.6 million in September 2018 and $25.4 million during an 18-month period. We have additional questions for the agency. Here is a video showing our data download and quantification of $2.3 million (Sept 2018) and $22.1 million (FY2018) in lobster tail purchases as reported by the DOD to the federal government's official transparency portal at USAspending.gov.

MISTAKES & IMPROPER PAYMENTS DISTRIBUTED BY 20 FEDERAL AGENCIES – $1.5 TRILLION

FY2004–FY2019 | OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT & BUDGET | Congressional Research Service released a report on July 16, 2018, titled "Improper Payments in High-Priority Programs: In Brief." Garrett Hatch, a specialist in American National Government, authored the report. In the summary, Hatch writes, "Over the period of FY2004 through FY2017, high priority improper payments have totaled $1.2 trillion." Between FY2017 and FY2019 inclusive, the reports compiled by the Office of Management & Budget show that the agencies admit to approximately $140 billion per year in improper payments. Our reporting published at Forbes.

DEAD PEOPLE RECEIVED MISTAKEN & IMPROPER PAYMENTS - $921 MILLION

FY2018 | MULTIPLE FEDERAL AGENCIES | Dead people received $1 billion in benefits. Medicare, Medicaid, social security payments and also the federal retirement annuity payouts (pensions) kept flowing to dead recipients. Our reporting published at Forbes.

EXPENSIVE COFFEE CUPS: THE PENTAGON PAYS MORE THAN $1,000 FOR A SINGLE COFFEE CUP

FY2018 | U.S. AIR FORCE | The Pentagon admitted to spending $1,220 on a single coffee cup. According to Travis Air Force Base Website. "In 2016, the 60th Aerial Port Squadron purchased 10 hot cups for $9,630. The price for each cup surged from $693 to $1,220 in 2018 resulting in a total expenditure of $32,000 for 25 cups. That’s a price jump of $527 per cup which leads to some pricey hot water," (July 2018).

LIVING EXPENSE TAX DEDUCTION FOR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS -- $1.6 MILLION

FY2019 | INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE | U.S. Senator Joni Ernst introduced the Stop Questionable, Unnecessary, and Excessive Allowances for Legislators Act, also known as the SQUEAL Act, to cut perks for elected officials and make Washington squeal. This legislation would eliminate a provision of the tax code that allows Members of Congress to deduct, for income tax purposes, up to $3,000 annually in living expenses while in the Washington, D.C. area.

MISTAKES & IMPROPER MEDICARE PAYMENTS – $491.9 BILLION

FY2004–FY2019 | HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES | Congressional Research Service released a report on July 16, 2018, titled "Improper Payments in High-Priority Programs: In Brief." Garrett Hatch, a specialist in American National Government, authored the report. On page CRS-5, table 2 shows Medicare (Fee for Service) improper payments amounted to $387 billion between FY2004-FY2017. The Office of Management & Budget updated the improper payment amounts for FY2018 and FY2019: yielding a total of $491.9 billion since FY2004.

SEX ED FOR PROSTITUTES IN CALIFORNIA – $1.4 MILLION

FY2016 | BARBARA LEE | CALIFORNIA–13 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 5, the report details the $1.4 million grant to the California Prostitutes Education Project from the Department of Health and Human Services.

2020 STUDENT LOANS (ESTIMATED BAD DEBT LOSS) -- $17 BILLION

FY2020 | CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE (CBO) | The CBO forecasts that the 2020 student loan portfolio will cost the U.S. taxpayer $17.6 billion. ED will loan $102 billion via six college loan programs and the taxpayer subsidy will amount to 17.3% of all money lent in FY2020.

GROUNDED MOON ROCKET COST OVERRUN -- $2.79 BILLION

FY2012—FY2019 | NASA | NASA will spend $8.9 billion in tax dollars on the Space Launch System (primarily through a Boeing contract), which is $2.7 billion more than the original estimate. A report found that the project’s problems "can be traced largely to management, technical, and infrastructure issues driven by Boeing’s poor performance" yet NASA awarded Boeing $323 million in performance bonuses.

USE IT OR LOSE IT SPENDING – $97 BILLION

FINAL MONTH FY2018 | ALL FEDERAL AGENCIES | In the final month of fiscal year 2018, 67 federal agencies spent $97 billion to close out their budgets. It was a massive shop-until-you-drop, taxpayer funded spending spree. Our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com found that roughly one out of every nine dollars in federal contracts disclosed by the executive and military agencies in FY2018 was spent during last week of the fiscal year. Eight departments – including the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Energy, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, State, and Justice – each spent over $1 billion. These findings were aired in a 30-minute interview on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal and published in our oversight report.

PREPARING RELIGIONS FOR DISCOVERY OF EXTRATERRESTRIAL LIFE – $1.1 MILLION

FY2017 | NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION | In 2017, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake published a waste book report. On page 58, the report details the $1.1 million NASA spent enlisting theologians to answer how the world’s religions would respond if extraterrestrial life were discovered.  

AIRPORT AT MARTHA’S VINEYARD – $19 MILLION

FY2016—FY2020 | DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION | On May 3, 2018, we published an editorial at Fox News Online titled, "Just how much federal waste, duplication and weird or unnecessary spending are your tax dollars funding?" The editorial quantifies the $9.2 million in federal grants that flowed to the private airport on Martha’s Vineyard in FY2016. Since then, we updated the figures through 2020.

AUTHORIZED BY CONGRESS & UNSPENT BY AGENCIES -- $15 BILLION

FY2018 | Rescissions submitted by EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT (EOP) | From EOP: The attached rescission proposals include unobligated balances from prior-year appropriations and reductions to budget authority for mandatory programs. These proposals include rescissions of funding that is no longer needed for the purpose for which it was appropriated by the Congress; in many cases, these funds have been left unspent by agencies for years. These proposals also include rescissions of low priority and unnecessary Federal spending.

2020 U.S. CENSUS COST OVERRUN -- $3.3 BILLION

FY2012—FY2023 | U.S. CENSUS BUREAU | Project:  The 2020 national population count conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau is more than $3 billion over budget and will be the most expensive in U.S. history and government auditors are warning that the current cost estimate is not reliable. Original Cost Estimate:  $12.3 billion in 2015. Current Cost Estimate:  $15.6 billion. Project Began:  2012. Original Completion Date:  September 2023. Federal Spending:  $15.6 billion

STUDY: HOW FACEBOOK AFFECTS ALCOHOL USE – $147,686

FY2016 | JIM MCDERMOTT | WASHINGTON–7 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 7, the report details the $147,686 grant given to the University of Washington from the Department of Health and Human Services.

SPACE RACERS: AN ANIMATED CHILDREN’S CARTOON – $2.5 MILLION

FY2016 | MO BROOKS | ALABAMA–5 | REPUBLICAN | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 7, the report details the $2.5 million grant given to the Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission from NASA. 

FURNITURE BINGE 2018 USE IT LOSE IT -- $491 MILLION

FINAL MONTH FY2018 | MULTIPLE FEDERAL AGENCIES | In the final month of fiscal year 2018, Federal agencies spent a half billion dollars on furniture to close out their budgets. It was a massive shop-until-you-drop, taxpayer funded spending spree. To Redecorate – federal agencies signed nearly 10,000 contracts to purchase furniture. Notably, the Department of Defense spent $9,341 on a Wexford leather club chair. Our findings published at Forbes.

MISTAKES & IMPROPER MEDICAID PAYMENTS – $306.6 BILLION

FY2004–FY2019 | HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES | Congressional Research Service released a report on July 16, 2018, titled "Improper Payments in High-Priority Programs: In Brief." Garrett Hatch, a specialist in American National Government, authored the report. On page CRS-5, table 2 shows Medicaid improper payments amounted to $234 billion between FY2004-FY2017. Our auditors updated the numbers through FY2019 using disclosures published by the Office of Management & Budget.

GRANTS (SUBSIDIZES) TO FORTUNE 100 COMPANIES -- $3.2 BILLION

FY2014—FY2017 | MULTIPLE FEDERAL AGENCIES | Our auditors quantified a four-year period during which Fortune 100 companies spent $2 billion lobbying Capitol Hill and received $3.2 billion in federal grants (2014-2017). These grants, or subsidies, are funded by the American taxpayer.  our organization at OpenTheBooks.com released our oversight report, Federal Funding of Fortune 100 Companies. We launched this report on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal and published at Forbes.

FUNDING TOP 25 COLLEGES WITH LARGEST ENDOWMENTS -- $6.9 BILLION

FY2017—FY2018 | DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION | The wealthiest colleges received nearly $7 billion in federal subsidies last year. The top 25 universities with largest endowments (collectively $272 billion) reaped $7 billion in federal student aid. Rich schools are getting richer and taxpayers paid for it. Wealthy colleges must make themselves affordable. Our findings published at Forbes and in our oversight report.

FANCY ROCK SCULPTURE – $482,960

FY2016 | DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS | After a joint investigation with COX Media Washington, D.C., OpenTheBooks published an editorial at Forbes on July 26, 2016, titled "The VA’s Luxury Art Obsession." The editorial exposed the Department of Veterans Affairs’ array of luxury artwork, including a fancy rock sculpture costing $482,960.

TALKING TO SAGUARO CACTUS – $10,000

FY2016 | NATIONAL FOUNDATION ON THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES | In July 2017, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities, detailing numerous examples of wasteful grant making by the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities. On page 10, the report details the $10,000 grant to the Collage Dance Theatre in Los Angeles. Our report launched on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal in a column by Roger Kimball.

USING SOAP OPERAS TO REDUCE HIV IN URBAN BLACK WOMEN – $567,529

FY2016 | MIKE CAPUANO | MASSACHUSETTS–7 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 7, the report details the $567,529 grant given to Northeastern University from the Department of Health and Human Services.

EARNED INCOME AND MISTAKEN TAX PAYMENTS-- $18.8 BILLION

FY2019 | INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE | Millions of low-income families who Congress designated as qualified recipients were overpaid billions of dollars. The program is rife with errors: the government overpaid $1 in every $4 to beneficiaries. (The IRS administers the program and responded to our request for comment here.) Our auditors used disclosures published by the Office of Management & Budget. Our findings published at Forbes.

FEDERAL FUNDING INTO THE 50 WORST JUNIOR COLLEGES -- $923.5 MILLION

FY2017—FY2018 | DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION | $1 billion in taxpayer subsidies flowed to the 50 worst performing junior colleges as ranked by WalletHub last year. The 10 worst junior colleges had an average graduation rate of 12 percent. Students aren’t graduating. Yet, they’re saddled with large debts. Our findings published at Forbes and in our oversight report.

PR CONTRACTS 2018 USE-IT-OR-LOSE-IT SPENDING SPREE – $462 MILLION

FINAL MONTH OF FY2018 | MULTIPLE FEDERAL AGENCIES | $462 Million Self Promotion Machine – Federal agencies spent millions on public relations, marketing research and public opinion, communications, and advertising in the final month of fiscal year 2018. The feds already employ 5,000 public affairs officers. It wasn’t enough. Our findings published at Forbes. 

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE MISTAKEN & IMPROPER OVERPAYMENTS -- $3.6 BILLION

FY2019 | DEPARTMENT OF LABOR | Unemployment insurance recipients received $3.6 billion in over payments administered by the states through the Department of Labor. The feds blame the states for lax oversight and program management: *The Department of Labor has been aggressively working with states to address unemployment insurance improper payments, providing intensive oversight and technical assistance to states with the highest improper payment rates and providing tools and resources to help all states better prevent, detect, and recover improper payments. Our findings published at Forbes.

BUYING BOOZE FOR EMBASSIES AROUND THE WORLD – $308,994

FINAL MONTH FY2018 | STATE DEPARTMENT & DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE | On October 3, 2018, we published an editorial at Forbes, titled "Use It or Lose It – Trump’s Agencies Spent $11 Billion Last Week in Year-End Spending Spree." Using data compiled by OpenTheBooks.com via the Freedom of Information Act, we quantified $79,000 in alcohol expenditures at the Department of State between September 24 and 30, 2017. We updated the numbers for FY2018 in this piece published at Forbes: For some agencies, the end of the fiscal year seems to be one big party. The Department of Defense and the Department of State purchased beer, wine, and whiskey. Contract recipients included Coors Brewing Company ($76,173); E&J Gallo Winery ($16,510), and more.

PERFORMANCE BONUSES – 99.6% OF FEDERAL WORKFORCE RATED "FULLY SUCCESSFUL" -- $4.4 BILLION

FY2016—FY2019 | ALL FEDERAL AGENCIES | Approximately $1.1 billion in federal performance bonuses were withheld from disclosure in FY2016. All federal performance bonuses are shielded by anti-transparency language inserted into federal union contracts. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, performance bonuses are sometimes based on salary amount and performance rating, and disclosure may allow others to determine an employee's rating. According to a Government Accountability Office audit using 2013 data, 99.6 percent of all federal workers received job performance ratings of "fully successful." That's a higher rating than the advertised purity of Ivory soap (99.3 percent).

2020 SBA LENDING (ESTIMATED BAD DEBT LOSS) -- $4 BILLION

FY2020 | CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE | The CBO forecasts that the 2020 SBA loan portfolio will cost the U.S. taxpayer $4 billion. The SBA will loan $44 billion via seven loan programs and the taxpayer subsidy will amount to 9.5% of all money lent in FY2020.

FLEET OF ARMORED VEHICLES – $1.5 MILLION

FY2017 | DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES | On October 3, 2018, we published an editorial at Forbes, titled "Use It or Lose It – Trump’s Agencies Spent $11 Billion Last Week in Year-End Spending Spree." Using data compiled by OpenTheBooks.com via the Freedom of Information Act, we identified a $1.5 million contract between Square One and the Department of Health and Human Services during the week of September 24 through 30, 2018.

SUPPORTED GREEN GROWTH IN PERU -- $10 MILLION

FY2019 | U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT | USAID is committing up to 10 million American taxpayer dollars to develop new and innovative Alliances with the private sector that advance environmentally-friendly economic development (i.e. green growth) in Peru. The envisioned activities will facilitate private sector financing andinvestment in value chains that lead to improved management of natural resources. 

RENOVATION BOONDOOGLE FOR NEW HOMELAND SECURITY HEADQUARTERS -- $2.1 BILLION

Through FY2019 | HOMELAND SECURITY, GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION | Trying to turn around an abandoned mental hospital into a new DHS headquarters, the General Services Administration (GSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have been attempting, since 2005 and at a cost of more than $2.1 billion to the taxpayer, to establish a headquarters for DHS on parts of the property. This effort includes creating office space for the Office of Secretary of Homeland Security and other crucial senior personnel in the West Campus’ main building.

HIPSTER PARTIES – $5 MILLION

FY2015 | NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH | In 2015, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake published a wastebook report. On page 11, the report details the $5 million the federal government spent funding "hipster parties."

VIRTUAL REALITY TO TEACH CHILDREN IN CHINA HOW TO CROSS THE STREET – $183,750

FY2016 | TERRI SEWELL | ALABAMA–7 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 7, the report details the $183,750 grant given to the University of Alabama Birmingham from the Department of Health and Human Services.

TAI CHI FOR THE ELDERLY – $696,723

FY2016 | MIKE CAPUANO | MASSACHUSETTS–7 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 8, the report details the $696,723 grant given to the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for the Elderly from the Department of Health and Human Services.

MISTAKES & IMPROPER STUDENT LOANS AND GRANTS – $11 BILLION

FY2017–FY2018 | DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION | ED lacks basic in-house financial accounting controls, and admits to overpaying $11 billion in Pell grants and student loans over the last two-years. About four percent of all student loans and eight percent of all Pell grants are overpaid. Our oversight published at Forbes.

27’ ARTIFICIAL CHRISTMAS TREE – $21,500

FY2016 | DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS | In a joint investigation with COX Media Washington, D.C., OpenTheBooks published an editorial at Forbes on July 26, 2016, titled "The VA’s Luxury Art Obsession." The editorial exposed the Department of Veterans Affairs’ array of luxury artwork purchases over a ten-year period cost taxpayers $20 million, including a 27-foot artificial Christmas tree. Our story was aired on Good Morning America and ABC World News Tonight. Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley wrote an oversight letter to then-VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who apologized for the purchases and instituted new rules to stop the purchases on a go-forward basis.

BOGUS BONUSES RELATED TO F-35 SPARE PARTS SHORTAGE -- $303 MILLION

FY2019 | INSPECTOR GENERAL DEFENSE DEPARTMENT | "We determined that the DoD did not receive RFI F35 spare parts in accordance with contract requirements and paid performance incentive fees on the sustainment contracts based on inflated and unverified F35A aircraft availability hours. As a result, the DoD received nonRFI spare parts and spent up to $303 million in DoD labor costs since 2015, and it will continue to pay up to $55 million annually for nonRFI spare parts until the nonRFI spare parts issue is resolved."

AVERAGE FEDERAL EMPLOYEE RECEIVES 43 DAYS PAID TIME OFF – $22.6 BILLION

FY2016 | U.S. OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT | Our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Mapping the Swamp quantified the taxpayer cost of federal employees’ benefits package. In the report, there is a section titled "Time Off and Benefits," beginning on page 11. The average federal bureaucrat receives 10 holidays, 13 sick days, and 20 vacation days. That’s 43 days of paid time off each year.

160,000 DEFAULTED SBA LOANS – $24.2 BILLION

SINCE 2000 | SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION | In September 2016, we published our OpenTheBooks Snapshot Oversight Report – Truth in Lending, quantifying the 160,000 defaulted Small Business Administration (SBA) loans doled out between 2000 and 2015, costing taxpayers $24.2 billion. Search all bad loans in your own ZIP Code, or any ZIP Code across America, on our interactive mapping platform.

COSTS 7 CENTS TO MAKE A NICKLE -- $150 MILLION

FY2019 | U.S. MINT | It currently costs 2.06 cents to make each penny and 7.53 cents to make each nickel. In other words, American taxpayers lose money every time the U.S. Mint produces one of those coins.

It might sound funny, but so many coins are produced annually that the cost actually adds up. Based on estimates from numbers in the U.S. Mint’s annual report, taxpayers lost about $85.4 million from penny production and $33.5 million from nickel production last year. Over the next decade, taxpayers would save $150 million. Source: here.

FROG MATING CALL STUDY IN PANAMA -- $404,991

FY2019 | NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION | The National Science Foundation spent a significant portion of a grant totaling $466,991 on studying the mating call of the male tungara frog of Panama. In a look at the effects of urbanization, the study examined the differences between the mating call in the city and in the forest, including the likelihood of attracting midges and bats.

SUPERSTORM SANDY FALSE-CLAIM VEHICLE DAMAGE PAYMENTS TO NYC -- $5.3 MILLION

FY2019 | FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY | The problems began when the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) submitted a list of claims to FEMA for a total of $12,758,664 in reimbursement for vehicles, all of which it claimed were damaged by the storm. However, "many of the vehicles" instead were already "non-operational — and some had even been marked for salvage —years before Sandy," The federal government stated in its complaint. The government also made it clear that proper oversight was ignored every step of the way. Source: here.

IVY LEAGUE COLLEGES – $42 BILLION

FY2010–2015 | FEDERAL PAYMENTS, SUBSIDIES, TAX–BREAKS | ALL FEDERAL AGENCIES | In March 2017, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Ivy League, Inc. In this report, we quantified all federal payments, subsidies, and tax breaks for the eight Ivy League schools between FY2010-FY2015. The Ivy League schools have $120 billion in accumulated endowment funds. Our findings launched on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal in a column by James Piereson and Naomi Schaefer-Riley titled, Ivy League Doesn’t Need Taxpayer Help. Our findings were also cited in the Boston Globe as providing research to congress as they instituted a new ‘excessive endowments’ tax in December 2017.

USING E–DIARIES TO COPE WITH MICROAGGRESSIONS – $173,089

FY2016 | ADAM KINZINGER | ILLINOIS–16 | REPUBLICAN | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 6, the report details the $173,089 grant to Northern Illinois University from the Department of Health and Human Services for these e-diaries.

DANCING WITH 15–FOOT FISH – $10,000

FY2016 | NATIONAL FOUNDATION ON THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES | In July 2017, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities, detailing numerous examples of wasteful grant making by the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities. On page 10, the report details the $10,000 grant to the Collage Dance Theatre in Los Angeles.

MEDITATION BREATHING MOBILE APP – $687,989

FY2016 | JIM CLYBURN | SOUTH CAROLINA–6 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 6, the report details the $687,989 grant to the Medical University of South Carolina from the Department of Health and Human Services.

FUNDING A FREQUENTLY INVESTIGATED CHILDCARE FACILITY IN TEXAS – $32.6 MILLION

FY2013-2020 | DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 6, the report details the $5 million in federal grant dollars given to the Shiloh Treatment Center in FY2016 alone. NPR investigated this center and allegations of medicating children. Recently, we updated the numbers to cover the fiscal years 2013 through 2020.

WHERE IT HURTS THE MOST TO BE STUNG BY BEE – $1 MILLION

FY2015 | NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION | Senator Jeff Flake from Arizona published a report, titled "Twenty Questions: Government Studies That Will Leave You Scratching Your Head." On page 7, the report details the $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation for a study asking "Where does it hurt the most to be stung by a bee?"

MISTAKEN & IMPROPER SBA LENDING -- $1.8 BILLION

FY2018—FY2019 | SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION | The SBA also has a problem with basic internal financial controls and admitted to $924.5 million in improperly paid "over payments" just last year. The agency cited its "inability to authenticate [borrower] eligibility," and "administrative or process errors made by the agency." Our findings were published at Forbes.

SUBSIDIZED LENDING TO WALL STREET BANKERS -- $12 BILLION

FY2014—FY2018 | SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION | A significant portion of SBA lending didn’t go to Main Street; it went to Wall Street. In fact, $12.2 billion in lending flowed to highly capitalized venture capital, mezzanine finance firms, private investor funds and investment pools. That’s not small business.

35,780 FEDERAL LAWYERS – $14.3 BILLION

FY2016—FY2018 | OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT | Our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Mapping the Swamp analyzed the most popular and taxpayer expensive federal employee job titles. On page 16, there is a case study detailing the annual taxpayer cost ($4.8 billion) of employing 35,212 federal lawyers. Only 12,000 of those lawyers are pursuing crime and criminals at the Department of Justice. Recently, we updated the numbers for all the years between FY2016 and FY2018.

IRS PURCHASE OF 4,600 GUNS & 5M ROUNDS OF AMMUNITION – INCLUDING 621 SHOTGUNS, 539 RIFLES & 15 SUBMACHINE GUNS -- $15.5 MILLION

FY2006—FY2017 | INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE | In December 2018, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report to congress quantifying purchases of $1.5 billion in firearms, ammunition, and tactical equipment by federal agencies outside of the Pentagon (FY2010-FY2017). These findings were consistent with our oversight published at The Wall Street Journal in summer 2016, which found 67 federal agencies outside of the Department of Defense purchased $1.4 billion in guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment (FY2006-FY2014).

LUXURY ARTWORK PURCHASES – $20 MILLION

FY2007–FY2016 | DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS | In a joint investigation with COX Media Washington, D.C., OpenTheBooks published an editorial at Forbes on July 26, 2016, titled "The VA’s Luxury Art Obsession." The editorial exposed the Department of Veterans Affairs’ array of luxury artwork purchases over a ten-year period cost taxpayers $20 million. Our story was aired on Good Morning America and ABC World News Tonight. Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley wrote an oversight letter to then-VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who apologized for the purchases and instituted new rules to stop the purchases on a go-forward basis.

3,390 FEDERAL PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICERS - $1.1 BILLION

FY2016—FY2018 | 202 FEDERAL AGENCIES | OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT | Our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Mapping the Swamp analyzed the most popular and taxpayer expensive federal employee job titles. On page 17, there is a case study detailing the annual taxpayer cost ($368.4 million) of employing 3,618 federal public affairs officers. There are approximately 5,000 public relations officers employed by all federal agencies, but only 3,618 are disclosed. Recently, we updated the numbers in fiscal years 2016 through 2018.

STUDY: ARE PHYSICIAN TRAINEES RACIST? – $932,741

FY2016 | TIM WALZ | MINNESOTA–1 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 9, the report details the $932,741 grant given to Mayo Clinic from the Department of Health and Human Services.

PREVENTING TEEN PREGNANCY THROUGH THEATER – $749,000

FY2016 | CHAKA FATTAH | PENNSYLVANIA–2 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 9, the report details the $749,000 grant given to the Public Health Management Corporation from the Department of Health and Human Services.

VIRTUAL SHOE–FITTING – $902,789

FY2015-2016 | MORGAN GRIFFITH | VIRGINIA–9 | REPUBLICAN | ANNA ESHOO | CALIFORNIA-18 |  DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 10, the report details the $753,502 grant given to Eclo, Inc. from the National Science Foundation. A representative from Rep. Griffith's office reached out to us, claiming Rep. Griffith was not responsible for this grant. Read Rep. Griffith's office's argument here. Rep. Griffith's office sent a cease and desist letter to our office and we issued a response. Read our response letter here. Recently, we updated the numbers and the total grants amounted to $902,789.

VIDEO GAME: THE LOGICAL JOURNEY OF THE ZOOMBINIS – $658,388

FY2016 | KATHERINE CLARK | MASSACHUSSETS–5 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 11, the report details the $658,388 grant given to Technical Education Research Centers, Inc. from the National Science Foundation.

650 FEDERAL GARDENERS & LANDSCAPERS – $127.1 MILLION

FY2016—FY2018 | U.S. OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT | Our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Mapping the Swamp analyzed the most popular and taxpayer expensive federal employee job titles. On page 18, there is a case study detailing the annual taxpayer cost ($44 million) of employing 650 federal gardeners and landscapers. Recently, we updated the numbers to reflect the cost during fiscal years 2016 through 2018.

SBA LOANS TO EXCLUSIVE CLUBS (COUNTRY CLUBS, YACHT CLUBS, ETC.) – $281 MILLION

FY2007–FY2018 | SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION | In September 2016, we published our OpenTheBooks Snapshot Oversight Report – Truth in Lending, detailing examples of the Small Business Administration (SBA) doling out small business loans to country clubs, yacht clubs, golf courses, and other exclusive entities. This continued our oversight we kicked off in 2014 of the SBA. Recently, we updated the numbers and published the results at Forbes. Since FY2007, our auditors quantified more than $280 million in lending to private country clubs, beach clubs, swim clubs, tennis clubs and yacht clubs across America. In the past five years, $120 million flowed to these exclusive clubs.

HISTORIC HOBO DAY – $11,987

FY2016 | KRISTI NOEM | SOUTH DAKOTA–1 | REPUBLICAN | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 8, the report details the $11,987 grant given to South Dakota State University from the National Endowment for the Arts.

STUDY: DISEASE SUSCEPTIBILITY OF TRANSLOCATING TORTOISES – $350,773

FY2016 | GLENN THOMPSON | PENNSYLVANIA–5 | REPUBLICAN | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 12, the report details the $350,773 grant given to Pennsylvania State University from the National Science Foundation.

MOBILE APP FOR SEX DIARY – $1 MILLION

FY2016 | GRACE NAPOLITANO | CALIFORNIA–32 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 12, the report details the $1 million grant given to Public Health Foundation Enterprises, Inc. from the Department of Health and Human Services.

CONVINCING MOTHERS TO STOP TEEN GIRLS FROM USING TANNING BEDS – $671,522 

FY2016 | ED PERLMUTTER | COLORADO–7 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 12, the report details the $671,522 grant to Klein Buendel, Inc. from the Department of Health and Human Services.

279 FEDERAL INTERIOR DESIGNERS AT VETERANS AFFAIRS – $67.1 MILLION

FY2016—FY2018 | U.S. OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT | Our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Mapping the Swamp analyzed the most popular and taxpayer expensive federal employee job titles. On page 16, there is a case study detailing the annual taxpayer cost ($22 million) of employing 270 federal interior designers. Recently, we updated the numbers at the VA through fiscal years 2016—2018. 

LENDING TO MILLIONAIRES: 40,000 $1M+ LOANS -- $94 BILLION

FY2014—FY2018 | SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION | We discovered 40,000 recipients received $1 million plus during fiscal years 2014 through 2018. Since 2007, there were 75,000 recipients receiving $1 million or more. Last year, there were 9,332 recipients, up from 8,275 the previous year. We mapped all of them – recipients of the SBA’s $1+ million loans – by ZIP Code across the country. Search your own neighborhood. Just click a pin (ZIP Code) on our interactive search tool and scroll down to see the results rendered in the chart beneath the map.

MISTAKES & IMPROPER FARM SUBSIDY PAYMENTS – $3.7 BILLION

FY2004–FY2017 | DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE | Congressional Research Service released a report on July 16, 2018, titled "Improper Payments in High-Priority Programs: In Brief." Garrett Hatch, a specialist in American National Government, authored the report. On page CRS-5, table 2 shows USDA Crop Insurance improper payments amounted to $3.7 billion between FY2004-FY2017. 

HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES (HHS) PURCHASE OF 1,300 GUNS & 4M ROUNDS OF AMMUNITION – INCLUDING 1 SHOTGUN, 5 SUBMACHINE GUNS & 189 AUTOMATIC FIREARMS – MILLION$

FY2006—FY2017 | HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES

In December 2018, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report to congress quantifying purchases of $1.5 billion in firearms, ammunition, and tactical equipment by federal agencies outside of the Pentagon (FY2010-FY2017). These findings were consistent with our oversight published at The Wall Street Journal in summer 2016, which found 67 federal agencies outside of the Department of Defense purchased $1.4 billion in guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment (FY2006-FY2014).Specific to HHS, the agency has resisted transparency to specifically quantify how much they have spent.

FARM SUBSIDIES INTO URBAN AREAS – $626 MILLION

FY2015–2017 | POPULATION OVER 250K | U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE | Our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Harvesting U.S. Farm Subsidies, released August 2018, quantifies all federal farm subsidies flowing to urban areas with populations exceeding 250,000 between FY2015-FY2017.

VIDEO GAME FOR YOUR FUTURE–SELF – $1.4 MILLION

FY2014—FY2018 | ROBERT WITTMAN | VIRGINIA–1 | REPUBLICAN | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 8, the report details the $651,498 grant given to Research and Evaluation Solutions, Inc. from the Department of Health and Human Services. A representative from Rep. Wittman's office reached out to us, claiming Rep. Wittman was not responsible for this grant. Read Rep. Wittman's office's argument here. Our auditor’s updated the numbers to reflect fiscal years 2014 through 2018.

RESEARCHING STIGMATIZATION OF DANISH SMOKERS – $330,176

FY2016 | LOU BARLETTA | PENNSYLVANIA–11 | REPUBLICAN | OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 11, the report details the $330,176 grant given to Dickinson College from the Department of Health and Human Services.

MEASURING BLOOD PRESSURE AT BLACK BARBERSHOPS – $2.1 MILLION

FY2016 | ADAM SCHIFF | CALIFORNIA–28 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 13, the report details the $2.1 million grant given to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center from the Department of Health and Human Services.

389 FARM SUBSIDY RECIPIENTS OF $1 MILLION+ – $667 MILLION

FY2017 | U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE | Our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Harvesting U.S. Farm Subsidies, released August 2018, quantifies the number of federal farm subsidy recipients pulling down $1 million or more in fiscal year FY2017 payments. Reviewing those farming entities who received over $1 million during the past 10-years (since 2008), we found over 6,600 entities received up to $23 million. Search our interactive map of all $1 million recipients of federal farm subsidies from over 60 USDA programs displayed by ZIP Code across America.

EPIDEMIC SIMULATION GAME FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS – $350,236

FY2016 | DAVID MCKINLEY | WEST VIRGINIA–1 | REPUBLICAN | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 14, the report details the $350,236 grant given to Wheeling Jesuit University from the Department of Health and Human Services. 

HOW AIR POLLUTION AFFECTS BIRTH BY RACE – $788,664

FY2016 | JERRY MCNERNEY | CALIFORNIA–9 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 14, the report details the $788,664 grant given to the University of California at Berkeley from the Environmental Protection Agency. 

VIRTUAL WEIGHT LOSS GAME – $228,830

FY2016 | HENRY JOHNSON, JR. | GEORGIA–4 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 16, the report details the $228,830 grant given to Virtually Better, Inc. from the Department of Health and Human Services.

SMARTPHONE APP FOR PARKING YOUR CAR – $149,999

FY2016 | KRYSTEN SINEMA | ARIZONA–9 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 16, the report details the $149,999 grant given to Arizona State University from the National Science Foundation. 

REFRAMING BELIEFS ABOUT DEATH & DYING AMONG LATINOS – $882,841

FY2015 | CORNELL UNIVERSITY | NATIONAL INSITUTES OF HEALTH, HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES In March 2017, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Ivy League, Inc. The report includes examples of wasteful grants doled out by the government to the Ivy League colleges. On page 16, the report details the $882,841 in grants given to Cornell University from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services. 

PAYMENTS TO GAY MEXICAN PROSTITUTES FOR SAFE SEX – $53,419

FY2015 | BROWN UNIVERSITY | NATIONAL INSITUTES OF HEALTH | In March 2017, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Ivy League, Inc. The report includes examples of wasteful grants doled out by the government to the Ivy League colleges. On page 15, the report details the $53,419 grant given to Brown University from the National Institutes of Health.

12 MEMBERS OF CONGRESS COLLECTED FARM SUBSIDY PAYMENTS – $637,059

FY2017 | U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE | When conducting research for our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Harvesting U.S. Farm Subsidies, released August 2018, our team found 12 members of Congress collecting farm subsidy payments in FY2017. These members of congress sit on the agriculture committee, craft farm policy, vote on the subsidies, and then collect the subsidies. Our Honorary Chairman Dr. Tom Coburn, while in congress, complained to the ethics committee.

NON–MILITARY AGENCIES PURCHASE GUNS, AMMUNITION, AND MILITARY–STYLE EQUIPMENT – $2.2 BILLION

FY2006–FY2017 | 67 NON–MILITARY FEDERAL AGENCIES | In July 2016, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – The Militarization of America, quantifying all non-military federal agency purchases of guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment between FY2006-FY2014. On October 20, 2017, we published updated numbers (FY2006-FY2017) in an editorial at Forbes, titled "Why Are Federal Bureaucrats Buying Guns and Ammo? $158 Million Spent by Non-Military Agencies."

CLIMATE CHANGE VOICEMAILS FROM THE FUTURE (2020—2065) – $5.7 MILLION

FY2012 | COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY | NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION | In March 2017, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – Ivy League, Inc. The report includes examples of wasteful grants doled out by the government to the Ivy League colleges. On page 15, the report details the $5.7 million grant given to Columbia University from the National Science Foundation. 

NEW CONDOM DESIGN WITH MORE LUBRICATION – $1.1 MILLION

FY2016—FY2019 | JOSEPH KENNEDY III | MASSACHUSETTS–4 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 6, the report details the $200,601 grant given to Hydroglyde Coatings from the Department of Health and Human Services. Recently, we updated the numbers to include fiscal years 2016 through 2019.

FUNDING CHRISTIAN SEMINARIES TO MINT PASTORS & PRIESTS -- $815 MILLION

FY2014—FY2017 | DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION | Nearly $1 billion funded 112 seminaries to mint pastors and priests. Our findings were published at Forbes and research published in our oversight report.

VA PURCHASE OF GUNS, 11 MILLION ROUNDS OF AMMUNITION, AND MILITARY-STYLE EQUIPMENT -- $17.3 MILLION

FY2006—FY0217 | VETERANS AFFAIRS | The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a mission to provide basic healthcare for veterans. In 1996, the VA didn’t have a police force. Over the last eight years, however, the VA purchased 11 million rounds of ammunition, which amounts to 2,800 rounds for each of their 3,957 officers. The VA also purchased camouflage uniforms, riot helmets and shields, specialized image enhancement devices and tactical lighting. Our findings published at Forbes.

TWO SCULPTURES FOR VA FACILITY THAT SERVES BLIND VETERANS – $670,000

FY2016 | DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS | In a joint investigation with COX Media Washington, D.C., OpenTheBooks published an editorial at Forbes on July 26, 2016, titled "The VA’s Luxury Art Obsession." The editorial exposed the Department of Veterans Affairs’ array of luxury artwork, including a $670,000 sculpture for a VA facility that serves blind veterans.

ARTS GRANTS FOR ORGANIZATIONS WITH OVER $1 BILLION IN ASSETS – $143 MILLION

FY2009–2016 | NATIONAL FOUNDATION ON THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES | In July 2017, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities, detailing numerous examples of wasteful grant making by the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities. The report quantifies all FY2016 arts and humanities funding flowing to organization with over $1 billion in assets each (page 5). Our report launched on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal in a column by Roger Kimball.

ROBERT REDFORD’S SUNDANCE INSTITUTE – $4.6 MILLION

FY2009—FY2019 | NATIONAL FOUNDATION ON THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES | In July 2017, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities, detailing numerous examples of wasteful grant making by the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities. On page 7, the report details the $200,000 in funding Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute received in FY2016. Our report launched on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal in a column by Roger Kimball. Recently, we updated the numbers from FY2009 and found millions of dollars in grants to this well healed arts organization with roughly $50 million in gross assets.

FEMINIST PORN BOOK AND OTHER TITLES – $55,000

FY2016 | NATIONAL FOUNDATION ON THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES | In July 2017, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities, detailing numerous examples of wasteful grant making by the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities. On page 8, the report details the $55,000 grant the Feminist Press received in FY2016. Our report launched on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal in a column by Roger Kimball.

EPA PURCHASE OF GUNS, AMMO, AND MILITARY–STYLE EQUIPMENT – $3.4 MILLION

FY2006–FY2017 | ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY | In July 2016, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – The Militarization of America, quantifying all non-military federal agency purchases of guns, ammunition, and military equipment between FY2006-FY2014. On October 20, 2017, we published updated numbers (FY2006-FY2017) in an editorial at Forbes, titled "Why Are Federal Bureaucrats Buying Guns and Ammo? $158 Million Spent by Non-Military Agencies." In both studies, we quantified all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) purchases of guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment. Our report launched in a co-authored editorial at the Wall Street Journal with Dr. Tom Coburn titled, Why Does the IRS Need Guns?.

"GAMES FOR CHANGE" VIDEO GAME CONVENTION – $200,000

FY2016 | NATIONAL FOUNDATION ON THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES | In July 2017, we published our OpenTheBooks Oversight Report – National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities, detailing numerous examples of wasteful grant making by the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities. On page 10, the report details the $200,000 grant Games for Change, Inc. received. Our report launched on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal in a column by Roger Kimball.

CIGAR TASTE TEST – $114,375

FY2016 | ROBERT SCOTT | VIRGINIA–3 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 5, the report details the $114,375 grant to Virginia Commonwealth University from the Department of Health and Human Services.

COMEDY CLUB HOLOGRAMS – $1.7 MILLION

FY2017 | DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE | A report by Arizona Senator Jeff Flake quantified $1.7 million given to a nonprofit called the National Comedy Center from the Department of Commerce. The grant was awarded to help the nonprofit construct a comedy museum that will "resurrect" dead comedians as holograms.

HOW TO USE A LAWYER GUIDE – $728,000

FY2015 | DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE | In 2015, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake published a wastebook report. On page 89, the report details the $728,000 the Department of Agriculture spent on a "How to Use a Lawyer" guide.

LIGHTING FOR LIQUOR STORES – $50,000

FY2017 | DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE | In 2017, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake published a wastebook report. On page 56, the report details the $50,000 the Department of Agriculture spent on liquor store lighting in Florida, Colorado, and Oklahoma.

ADVERTISING AND PUBLIC RELATIONS (PR) CAMPAIGNS -- $1.4 BILLION

FY2020 | ALL FEDERAL AGENCIES | U.S. Senator Joni Ernst quantified $1.4 billion per year spent on PR by the federal agencies. These findings are consistent with our previous oversight report in 2015, The Department of Self-Promotion. 

HOW ALCOHOL AFFECTS MEN’S ATTENTION AND SENSITIVITY TO SEXUAL INTEREST CUES – $180,921

FY2016 | DAVE LOEBSACK | IOWA–2 | DEMOCRAT | Our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Where’s the Pork, released in May 2018, includes 50 examples of wasteful federal grants (FY2017). On page 7, the report details the $180,921 grant given to the University of Iowa from the Department of Health and Human Services.

EXTRA: USDA SPENDS MILLIONS SUBSIDIZING CRICKET FARMS FOR HUMANS TO EAT BUGS

FY2017 | DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE | According to USAspending.gov search results (May 2, 2017) Bugeater Labs received Department of Agriculture funding. The University of Nebraska Omaha College of Business Administration website published an article on April 28, 2017, titled "Bugeater Foods," explaining the funding. 

*  *  *

SIGN YOUR NAME TO OPENTHEBOOKS' PETITION, URGING THE PRESIDENT TO WAGE A WAR ON WASTE. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 11/11/2019 - 22:25
Published:11/11/2019 9:44:47 PM
[Aerospace] Boeing’s Starliner crew spacecraft launch pad abort test is a success NASA’s commercial crew partner Boeing has achieved a key milestone on the way to actually flying astronauts aboard its CST-100 Starliner: Demonstrating that its launch pad abort system works as designed, which is a key safety system that NASA requires to be in place before the aerospace company can put astronauts inside the Starliner. The […] Published:11/4/2019 8:28:47 AM
[Aerospace] Watch live as NASA and Boeing test the Starliner crew spacecraft launch pad abort system NASA’s commercial crew program Boeing will run a key test today of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner, a new spacecraft developed by the aerospace company to bring American astronauts to the International Space Station, beginning as early as next year. The Starliner will undergo a crucial and necessary launch pad abort test, wherein if all goes […] Published:11/4/2019 6:28:19 AM
[Markets] The Great Decoupling Has Begun, Sinophobia Erupts, DJI Drones Banned  The Great Decoupling Has Begun, Sinophobia Erupts, DJI Drones Banned 

Before a complete fracturing of the US and Chinese economies, there have already been numerous signs of decoupling that are currently taking place behind the scenes. 

But before we tell you about the decoupling and the latest evidence we've found. You must be asking: Where are we in the trade war? Beginning innings? Imminent trade deal?  

The flurry of trade headlines from the US and China over the last 15 or so months have certainly been confusing. The fact is, there's so much fake trade news that it's hard to tell exactly the progress between both countries. 

But what's certain is that the trade war is in the beginning innings and nowhere near being resolved. Yes, there's a Phase 1 deal being floated around, but that's only for President Trump to save Midwest farmers and to create positive sentiment ahead of the 2020 election to pump the stock market. 

In reality, the trade war is a winner take all game, it's really about empire, and how Washington is attempting to prevent China from becoming the next global superpower. Hence the reason for tariffs, which is an attempt by President Trump, the Pentagon, and US corporate elites to limit China's ascension. 

The decoupling will be slow at first, then rapid. We're already seeing small to medium-sized Chinese companies being denied IPOs on Nasdaq. President Trump has already banned Haweui access to key US markets. And now, the next evidence that the decoupling is gaining momentum comes from the US Department Of The Interior. 

The Department has grounded its entire fleet of 800 drones for fear that Chinese hackers could spy on critical infrastructure, reported The Wall Street Journal.

"Secretary Bernhardt is reviewing the Department of the Interior's drone program. Until this review is completed, the Secretary has directed that drones manufactured in China or made from Chinese components be grounded unless they are currently being utilized for emergency purposes, such as fighting wildfires, search and rescue, and dealing with natural disasters that may threaten life or property," the Department told The Verge via an email statement. 

US officials worry that the Department is relying too heavily on Chinese drones and has put critical infrastructure at risk of being spied on by the Chinese. 

Last month a bipartisan bill was introduced that would limit federal agencies from purchasing Chinese drones. 

Several years ago, the Department of Homeland Security warned federal agencies from purchasing Chinese drones, specifically ones made by Shenzhen-based SZ DJI Technology Co., Ltd.

A DJI spokesperson told The Verge in a statement that the latest grounding of their drones by the Department Of The Interior is rather "disappointing." 

"We are aware the Department of Interior has decided to ground its entire drone program and are disappointed to learn of this development...As the leader in commercial drone technology, we have worked with the Department of Interior to create a safe and secure drone solution that meets their rigorous requirements, which was developed over the course of 15 months with DOI officials, independent cybersecurity professionals, and experts at NASA. We will continue to support the Department of Interior and provide assistance as it reviews its drone fleet so the agency can quickly resume the use of drones to help federal workers conduct vital operations," the DJI spokesperson said.

The Department's decision to ground Chinese drones is a clear trend of what's to come in the year ahead: more groundings across a wide array of agencies. 

Just wait until the groundings start hitting state and local municipalities and lower-level agencies. It's going to be a nightmare. 

Nevertheless, when the government starts banning certain Chinese products from consumers, you'll know the great decoupling between the US and China is imminent. 

For this to all happen, the Trump administration will need to ramp up Sinophobia propaganda to convince the American people that decoupling is the right move. 

 

Tyler Durden Sun, 11/03/2019 - 20:05
Published:11/3/2019 7:25:30 PM
[Markets] Air Force's Secretive X-37B Spaceplane Lands After 780-Day "Classified Mission" Air Force's Secretive X-37B Spaceplane Lands After 780-Day "Classified Mission"

The U.S. Air Force's secretive X-37B, also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle, is a robotic spacecraft, landed Sunday morning after 780 days in orbit, beating its previous record of 718 days, reported Space.com

The X-37B touched down at the Shuttle Landing Facility of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, early Sunday morning. The classified mission, which initially began in September 2017, started on top of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

"This program continues to push the envelope as the world's only reusable space vehicle. With a successful landing today, the X-37B completed its longest flight to date and successfully completed all mission objectives," Randy Walden, director of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, said in a statement. "This mission successfully hosted Air Force Research Laboratory experiments, among others, as well as providing a ride for small satellites."

X-37B's real mission in low Earth Orbit (LEO) is classified. But a 2017 Air Force press release detailed the plane is a "host platform for experimental payloads." 

"This mission carries small satellite ride shares and will demonstrate greater opportunities for rapid space access and on-orbit testing of emerging space technologies. Building upon the fourth mission and previous collaboration with experiment partners, this mission will host the Air Force Research Laboratory Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader payload to test experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipe technologies in the long-duration space environment," the Air Force said back in 2017. 

In July, we reported how an amateur space enthusiast captured the X-37B orbiting Earth on camera. 

The X-37B resembles a smaller version of NASA's retired Space Shuttle orbiter. It measures 29 feet long, 9.5 feet high, and has a wingspan of only 15 feet. The payload bay is about 7 feet long by 4 feet wide. 

Ground-based infrared sensors captured the moment the X-37B landed on Sunday morning. 

More footage shows ground crews in spacesuits working on the plane after it landed.

Here's another view of the spaceplane.

As for the exact mission, we'll never know what the X-37B did for 780-days while orbiting the Earth.

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/29/2019 - 01:00
Published:10/29/2019 12:27:36 AM
[TC] Will the quantum economy change your business? Google and NASA have demonstrated that quantum computing isn’t just a fancy trick, but almost certainly something actually useful — and they’re already working on commercial applications. What does that mean for existing startups and businesses? Simply put: nothing. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore it forever. There are three main points that anyone […] Published:10/28/2019 6:49:48 PM
[Aerospace] U.S. Air Force experimental test spaceship lands after a record 780 days in orbit The X-37B, a test vehicle operated by the U.S. Air Force, has returned from orbit and landed successfully at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, over two years after it originally launched on its latest mission aboard a SpaceX rocket. The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, as its formally known, was on its fifth mission, which […] Published:10/28/2019 7:46:32 AM
[Gadgets] NASA’s VIPER lunar rover will hunt water on the Moon in 2022 NASA is looking for liquid gold on the Moon — not oil, but plain-old water. If we’re going to have a permanent presence there, we’ll need it, so learning as much as we can about it is crucial. That’s why the agency is sending a rover called VIPER to the Moon’s south pole — its […] Published:10/25/2019 6:03:11 PM
[Aerospace] NASA’s Mars 2020 rover rests on its own six wheels for the first time NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will have to operate on its own in a harsh environment, hundred of millions of miles from the nearest mechanic. But for now, it’s still in development at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab – and every milestone is an important one. Including supporting its own weight, fully assembled and resting on its […] Published:10/25/2019 8:02:58 AM
[Aerospace] NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine explains how startups can help with Artemis Moon missions At this week’s International Astronautical Congress, where the space industry, international space agencies and researchers from around the world convene to discuss the state of space technology and business, I asked NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine about what role he sees for startups in contributing to his agency’s ambitious Artemis program. Artemis, named after Apollo’s twin […] Published:10/24/2019 2:27:41 PM
[Middle Column] CLAIM: Pentagon Commissioned report: U.S. Military Could Collapse Within 20 Years Due to ‘Climate Change’

"The report says a combination of global starvation, war, disease, drought, and a fragile power grid could have cascading, devastating effects."

"The study found that the US military itself might also collapse. This could all happen over the next two decades, the report notes.The senior US government officials who wrote the report are from several key agencies including the Army, Defense Intelligence Agency, and NASA. [..] The report was commissioned by General Mark Milley, Trump's new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, making him the highest-ranking military officer in the country."

Published:10/24/2019 12:29:51 PM
[Aerospace] Jeff Bezos announces Blue Origin will form new industry team to return to the Moon At the International Astronautical Congress in Washington, D.C. today, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos announced a new “national team” that will join forces in order to help return humans to the Moon via NASA’s Artemis program. They’ll focus on developing the Human Landing System that will be used to achieve this goal. Blue Origin will […] Published:10/22/2019 8:11:25 AM
[Left Column] Physicist: No Convincing Evidence That Antarctic Ice Sheet is Melting

"Global panic over the impending meltdown of Antarctica is totally unwarranted...A 2015 NASA study reported that the Antarctic ice sheet was actually gaining rather than losing ice in 2008, and that ice thickening was making sea levels fall by 0.23 mm per year."

Published:10/21/2019 2:38:02 PM
[Aerospace] Japan will participate in NASA’s Lunar Gateway project for the Artemis program Japan has officially announced that it will participate with NASA’s Lunar Gateway project (via NHK), which will seek to establish an orbital research and staging station around the Moon. The Lunar Gateway is a key component of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to land the first American woman and the next American man on the […] Published:10/18/2019 6:15:34 AM
[Aerospace] Watch NASA’s first ever all-woman spacewalk live NASA astronauts Christina H Koch and Jessica Meir will make history this morning, as they take part in the first ever spacewalk in the agency’s history featuring only women. The two astronauts will be venturing outside of the International Space Station in order to effect a repair on a failed power controller for the station, […] Published:10/18/2019 5:46:40 AM
[Boeing] How Elon Musk’s Infamous Pot Smoking Episode Cost Tax Payers Millions of Dollars Newly uncovered records show that NASA paid SpaceX $5 million to ensure that none of its employees would repeat CEO Elon Musk's marijuana incident. Published:10/16/2019 11:35:24 AM
[Aerospace] NASA extends contact with Boeing for SLS rocket, paving the way for up to 10 Artemis missions NASA has a new contract extension in place with Boeing, which will cover rocket stages for its Space Launch System (SLS) beyond Artemis I and Artemis II, the missions covered under the current contract it holds with the aerospace company. The new contract includes production of the core stage of the rocket for Artemis III, […] Published:10/16/2019 9:04:11 AM
[Aerospace] NASA Administrator “very confident” SpaceX crew launch could happen in early 2020 NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was at SpaceX HQ in Hawthorne, California on Thursday, delivering an address alongside NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who will launch aboard SpaceX’s commercial Crew Dragon capsule, and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. Bridenstine kicked off  with some brief remarks about the importance and priority of the crew launch mission, […] Published:10/10/2019 5:30:41 PM
[Markets] Forget Facial Recog: DHS New Amazon-Based Database Uses Scars, Tattoos, & Your Voice To ID You Forget Facial Recog: DHS New Amazon-Based Database Uses Scars, Tattoos, & Your Voice To ID You

Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,

These days, you can’t really go anywhere without encountering cameras.  Going into a store? Chances are there are security cameras. Getting money at an ATM? More cameras. Driving through the streets of a city? More cameras still. Your neighbors may have those doorbells from Amazon that are surveilling the entire neighborhood.

And many of these cameras are tied into facial recognition databases, or the footage can be quite easily compared there if “authorities” are looking for somebody.

But as it turns out, it isn’t just facial recognition we have to worry about.

DHS has a new recognition system called HART.

Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology system is the alarming new identity system being put in place by the Department of Homeland Security.

DHS is retiring its old system that was based on facial recognition. It’s being replaced with HART, a cloud-based system that holds information about the identities of hundreds of millions of people.

The new cloud-based platform, called the Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology System, or HART, is expected to bring more processing power, new analytics capabilities and increased accuracy to the department’s biometrics operations. It will also allow the agency to look beyond the three types of biometric data it uses today—face, iris and fingerprint—to identify people through a variety of other characteristics, like palm prints, scars, tattoos, physical markings and even their voices. (source)

Incidentally, the cloud hosting for HART is being done by none other than Amazon – you know, the ones with surveillance devices like the Ring doorbell and the Alexa home assistant and the Nest home security system. Does anyone see a pattern here?

Also note that Amazon Web Services also hosts data for the CIA, the DoD, and NASA.

More about HART

As HART becomes more established, that old saying “you can run but you can’t hide” is going to seem ever more true. The DHS is delighted at how much further the new system can take them into surveilling Americans.

And by freeing the agency from the limitations of its legacy system, HART could also let officials grow the network of external partners with whom they share biometric data and analytics capabilities, according to Patrick Nemeth, director of identity operations within Homeland Security’s Office of Biometric Identity Management.

“When we get to HART, we will be better, faster, stronger,” Nemeth said in an interview with Nextgov. “We’ll be relieved of a lot of the capacity issues that we have now … and then going forward from there we’ll be able to add [capabilities].” (source)

The DHS wants to break free of the limitations of the old system with their new and “improved” system. HART will use multiple pieces of biometric data to increase identification accuracy.

Today, when an official runs a person’s face, fingerprint or iris scans through IDENT’s massive database, the system doesn’t return a single result. Rather, it assembles a list of dozens of potential candidates with different levels of confidence, which a human analyst must then look through to make a final match. The system can only handle one modality at a time, so if agent is hypothetically trying to identify someone using two different datapoints, they need to assess two lists of candidates to find a single match. This isn’t a problem if the system identifies the same person as the most likely match for both fingerprint and face, for example, but because biometric identification is still an imperfect science, the results are rarely so clear cut.

However, the HART platform can include multiple datapoints in a single query, meaning it will rank potential matches based on all the information that’s available. That will not only make it easier for agents to analyze potential matches, but it will also help the agency overcome data quality issues that often plague biometric scans, Nemeth said. If the face image is pristine but the fingerprint is fuzzy, for example, the system will give the higher-quality datapoint more weight.

“We’re very hopeful that it will provide better identification surety than we can provide with any single modality today,” Nemeth said. And palm prints, scars, tattoos and other modalities are added in the years ahead, the system will be able to integrate those into its matching process. (source)

HART will also use DNA.

Remember a while back when we reported that DNA sites were teaming up with facial recognition software? Well, HART will take that unholy alliance even further.

The phase-two solicitation also lists DNA-matching as a potential application of the HART system. While the department doesn’t currently analyze DNA, officials on Wednesday announced they would start adding DNA collected from hundreds of thousands of detained migrants to the FBI’s criminal database. During the interview, Nemeth said the agency is still working through the legal implications of storing and sharing such sensitive data. It’s also unclear whether DNA information would be housed in the HART system or a separate database, he said. (source)

Nifty.

The DHS is operating without any type of regulation.

Currently, there’s no regulation or oversight of government agencies collecting and using this kind of data. Civil liberty activists and some lawmakers are alarmed by this, citing concerns about privacy and discrimination. This hasn’t slowed down the DHS one iota, however.

Critics have taken particular issue with the government’s tangled web of information sharing agreements, which allow data to spread far beyond the borders of the agency that collected it. The Homeland Security Department currently shares its biometric data and capabilities with numerous groups, including but not limited to the Justice, Defense and State departments.

In the years ahead, HART promises to strengthen those partnerships and allow others to flourish, according to Nemeth. While today the department limits other agencies’ access to IDENT to ensure they don’t consume too much of its limited computing power, HART will do away with those constraints. (source)

Mana Azarmi, the policy counsel for the Freedom, Security and Technology Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology is one of those people voicing concern.

A person might give information to a single agency thinking it would be used for one specific purpose, but depending on how that information is shared, they could potentially find themselves subjected to unforeseen negative consequences, Azarmi said in a conversation with Nextgov.

“The government gets a lot of leeway to share information,” she said. “In this age of incredible data collection, I think we need to rethink some of the rules that are in place and some of the practices that we’ve allowed to flourish post-9/11. We may have overcorrected.” (source)

You think?

Many people voluntarily provide biometric data.

Many folks provide biometric data without giving it a second thought. They cheerfully swab a cheek and send it into sites like Ancestry.com, providing not only their DNA, but matches to many relatives who never gave permission for their DNA to be in a database.

Then there are cell phones. If you have a newer phone, it’s entirely possible that it has asked you to set up fingerprint login, facial recognition, and even voice recognition. It isn’t a stretch of the imagination to believe that those samples are shared with folks beyond the device in your hand. Add to this that your device is tracking you every place you go through a wide variety of seemingly innocuous apps, and you start to get the picture.

You can’t opt-out.

Back in 2013, I wrote an article called The Great American Dragnet.  At that time, facial recognition was something that sounded like science fiction or some kind of joke. Our drivers’ licenses were the first foray into creating a database but even in 2013, it far exceeded that.

Another, even larger, database exists. The US State Department has a database with 230 million searchable images.  Anyone with a passport or an immigration visa may find themselves an unwilling participant in this database.   Here’s the breakdown of who has a photo database:

  • The State Department has about 15 million photos of passport or visa holders

  • The FBI has about15 million photos of people who have been arrested or convicted of crimes

  • The Department of Defense has about 6 million photos, mainly of Iraqis and Afghans

  • Various police agencies and states have at least 210 million driver’s license photos

This invasion of privacy is just another facet of the surveillance state, and should be no surprise considering the information Edward Snowden just shared about the over-reaching tentacles of the NSA into all of our communications. We are filing our identities with the government and they can identify us at will, without any requirement for probable cause. (source)

Some people don’t even seem to mind that their identities have been tagged and filed by the US government. And even those of us who do mind have no option. If you wish to drive a car or travel outside of the country or have any kind of government ID, like it or not, you’re in the database. Six years ago, I wrote:

The authorities that use this technology claim that the purpose of it is to make us safer, by helping to prevent identity fraud and to identify criminals.  However, what freedom are we giving up for this “safety” cloaked in benevolence? We are giving up the freedom of having the most elemental form of privacy – that of being able to go about our daily business without being watched and identified.  And once you’re identified, this connects to all sorts of other personal information that has been compiled: your address, your driving and criminal records, and potentially, whatever else that has been neatly filed away at your friendly neighborhood fusion center.

Think about it:  You’re walking the dog and you fail to scoop the poop – if there’s a surveillance camera in the area, it would be a simple matter, given the technology, for you to be identified. If you are attending a protest that might be considered “anti-government”, don’t expect to be anonymous.  A photo of the crowd could easily result in the identification of most of the participants.

Are you purchasing ammo, preparedness items, or books about a controversial topic?  Paying cash won’t buy you much in the way of privacy – your purchase will most likely be captured on the CCTV camera at the checkout stand, making you easily identifiable to anyone who might wish to track these kinds of things.  What if a person with access to this technology uses it for personal, less than ethical reasons, like stalking an attractive women he saw on the street?  The potential for abuse is mind-boggling.

If you can’t leave your house without being identified, do you have any real freedom left, or are you just a resident in a very large cage? (source)

When I wrote that, it still seemed far-fetched but remotely possible, even to me. This was before we were really aware of anything like the social credit program in China or how crazy the censorship was going to become or how social media would change the very fabric of our society.

Now, it’s here and it looks like there’s no stopping it.

Tyler Durden Wed, 10/09/2019 - 23:45
Published:10/9/2019 10:57:47 PM
[Science] NASA shares 3D Moon data for CG artists and creators If you want to set your movie or game on the Moon, it's not hard to find imagery of our photogenic satellite. But NASA has just released a useful and beautiful new set of data just for creators that includes not just imagery but depth data, making it simple to build an incredibly detailed 3D map of the Moon. Published:10/5/2019 6:05:43 PM
[Markets] Central Bankers Go Green... Why? Central Bankers Go Green... Why?

Authored by Matthew Ehret via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

I was told many depressing things as a child.

Watching World Vision infomercials educating the west to the want and misery suffered by millions of children in the third world, I wasn’t alone in asking adults “why”? When I enjoyed all the comforts of food security, electricity and running water, why were these other children living in poverty? I know that I was not the only bewildered child to receive the shallow response that I did from family and teachers when I was told that this “simply is the way it is”. At best, we privileged few in the 1st world could hope that $1/day would alleviate their pain, but really there was no great solution.

Later in life, as my closest friends found themselves enmeshed in university political science and economic programs, the innocent curiosity that recognized injustice for what it was not only died under the weight of materialist theories of human nature which their parents paid good money to feed them, but upon leaving school, those same friends actually became witting accomplices in that very system which their youthful hearts recognized as wrong so many years earlier. Since humanity was intrinsically selfish and our economic system so immutable, the best we could hope for was success in life and enjoy being on the receiving end of destiny.

Again, I know that I’m not alone in this experience, as tens of millions of citizens took to the streets all around the world on September 27 to march for the earth, repulsed by corrupt consumerism and celebrating the advent of a Green New Deal.

This activation of “people power” driven by such institutions as the Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for the Future and the young Greta Thunberg could never have occurred had not a deep sense of injustice and malaise not already been festering in our collective hearts. That sense of injustice and malaise connects us to our deepest humanity and is a purity which unites each of us in a field of compassion with the whole of which we are but parts, and should be celebrated and protected at all costs.

In spite of that purity something much darker showed its ugly face on September 27 which used that inherent goodness to its dark advantage. It is that dark something that I would like to discuss.

You Know Something Isn’t Right When…

The first clue as to the ugly problem can be found in the simple fact that leading central bankers had already issued a call for the same new green banking system which Greta and the countless masses also demanded long before Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for the Future or There is No Time were ever created.

While officially announced on September 22nd at the opening of the UN Climate Summit in NY, a Central Banker’s Climate Compact was unveiled under the leadership of Bank of England Governor Mark Carney that had already been in the works for over 18 months representing over 130 of the world’s largest and corrupt banks calling for a radical decarbonisation of the world economy by 2/3 according to commitments laid out in the 2015 Paris Climate accord.

Bank of England head and Chair of the Bank of International Settlement’s Financial Stability Board (2011-2018) Mark Carney announced at this venue that “climate disclosures must become comprehensive, climate risk management must be transformed and sustainable investing must go mainstream”. Carney then took on a more threatening tone by saying “the firms that anticipate these developments will be rewarded handsomely. Those that don’t will cease to exist”.

Now Mark Carney has been hailed by the environmental lobby as the leading “eco-warrior” of central bankers and those doing the hailing seem to rarely take notice of the blatant fact that the person who sits atop the technocratic power structure that has given rise to the world’s greatest economic and environmental injustices for decades is also the person designing how this dysfunctional world is supposed to be restructured.

So how do Carney and his fellow hive of central bankers propose the world transform?

The New Green System Becomes…

For starters, Carney believes that a new global reserve currency must replace the U.S. Dollar.

What should this post-dollar system be based upon? Well, as of August 23, during a central bankers’ summit in Jackson Hole Missouri, Carney stated that it should be modelled on Facebook’s cryptocurrency the Libra, which is scheduled to start issuance by early next year. Unlike the Libra however, Carney’s cryptocurrency will be entirely controlled by private banking institutions and totally removed from sovereign nation states, which are just too influenced by short term political interests rather than an “enlightened technocratic elite” who know how to truly think long term.

Knowing that China’s Belt and Road Initiative is increasingly becoming the foundation for a viable new economic order, and knowing that the financial oligarchy’s monopoly over world finance will come undone if that were so, Carney also warned that a crypto-digital currency is the only way to stop the Renminbi from becoming the US dollar’s replacement. Carney called his digital solution to be a “synthetic hegemonic currency… through a network of central bank digital currencies” which would base their value upon new standards not existent in the 1971-2019 globalized model.

Redefining value

In a 2015 Lloyds of London Speech preceding the Paris COP21 Climate summit, Carney stated “the desirability of restricting climate change to two degrees above pre-industrial levels leads to the notion of a carbon “budget”- an assessment of the amount of emissions the world can “afford”.

This statement essentially defines the parameters which Greta and her minions of green followers are being induced to call for as a new “post-consumerist” world of monetary valuation while actually merely destroying what little remains of a middle class and empowering an already entrenched oligarchy.

Like all good lies, this one hinges upon a truth.

Carney and the green new dealers recognize that pure “market demand” has totally failed as a standard of assessing “value” of money or any other primary asset in our economy. $4.5 trillion of currency speculation grows like a cancer every day without any positive payback to the real economy while $700 trillion of derivatives hover like a Damocles sword over the world waiting to fall at any moment that “market confidence” disappears as it did in 2007.

But after that truth is acknowledged, what does the “carbon budget” entail which professes to somehow lower the world temperature to within two degrees of pre-industrial temperatures which we must assume to be a solution to an under-defined problem?

According to the Green New Deal proposed by Carney and his allies, in order to bring world carbon dioxide production down to net zero emissions by 2050 as demanded by COP21, several things must happen.

  • Green bonds must be expanded en masse, in the similar fashion that victory bonds were created in WW2 to pay for the growth of industry needed to battle Hitler. In this 21st century version of course, it is the Bank of International Settlements which financed Nazism which today wishes to define how the new victory bonds will behave. Rather than finance industrial and scientific growth as occurred in the 1940s, these new bonds promise to shrink it. The associated constraints upon humanity’s ability to support its 7 billion lives is not lost to some cold hearted technocrats and their aristocratic managers at the top.

  • In reducing industrial growth through the transition from a carbon-based society towards a “green” energy- fueled society of windmills and solar panels, carbon footprints must be diminished. The degree to which humanity diminishes its carbon footprints is the degree to which Carney and his masters promise to reward economic players with monetary profit. Again this is the very opposite process when compared to the 1938-1971 system of industrial growth which tied dollar values to the growth of the REAL economy (agriculture, industry, science and technology) which tied money to the betterment of human life.

  • Carbon Taxes and Cap and Trade mechanisms must become hegemonic which then creates measurable values for the reduction of humanity’s carbon footprint.

Embarrassingly Bad Science

By acting on a purely emotional state of fear and panic as Greta demands we do, Carney-ite technocrats hope that no one bothers to shine light upon the blatant scientific fallacies underlying the entire “green new deal” which the Bank of England is proposing the world adopt.

We must ignore the fact that the “99% of scientists who all agree that global warming is caused by human activity” is really only based upon a survey of 79 anonymous scientists (77 of whom believed in the claim).

We must believe that it has been proven that CO2 is a cause of climate variation, even though all long term measurements of climate and temperature indicate that CO2 follows rather than precedes temperature changes.

We must also believe that this reduction in humanity’s contribution of CO2 to the entire greenhouse effect (which accounts for less than 0.1% of the total) would have any impact whatsoever upon a 2 degree reduction of the global mean temperature from pre-industrial levels (which we have no ability to assess anyway).

We must ultimately assume that perpetual economic growth is a delusion which only fools believe in and that population growth is a problem which must be corrected by a technocratic elite who have the “stomachs to handle the bloodletting”.

Breaking out of our Carrying Capacity

The fact is that there has always been a carrying capacity to humanity and no one should try to deny that reality.

What green technocrats hate to admit is that humanity’s carrying capacity is very different from that found among all other species of life in the biosphere.

While other species find their population potential limited by genetic traits, and environmental constraints, humanity alone can transcend those material limits by leaping into the creative realm of discovery both in the sciences as well as in the arts. The fruits of humanity’s discoveries as outlined in Abraham Lincoln’s brilliant speech On Discoveries and Inventions (1860) is entirely connected to our unbounded capacity for scientific and technological progress.

The reality of the coherence between mankind’s creative powers and the creative power shaping the universe as a whole has been a powerful concept identified millennia ago by Plato, St. Augustine, Nicholas of Cusa and his followers Johannes Kepler, Gottfried Leibniz, Benjamin Franklin and Friedrich Schiller. Its expression (though not always fully understood by those acting upon it) has been the object of hate and fear by an entrenched oligarchy which has launched innumerable wars, assassinations and regime changes to prevent its awakening.

The New Silk Road… Not the Green New Deal

Today, Russia and China have recognized this necessity of unbounded human progress and are fully committed to integrating their economies into an “alternative” financial system centered on the Belt and Road Initiative. While 135 other nations have increasingly joined in this new system, the oligarchy which signs Carney’s paycheques is well aware that a USA under the control of a president who says “the future belongs to patriots, not globalists” creates an intolerable risk that may re-orient America towards this new system and that cannot be tolerated.

Most importantly, when one truly inspects the Belt and Road Initiative’s accomplishments both in Asia as well as Africa and the Middle East, it becomes apparent that the only system which truly has the means to not only replace our bankrupt order while also eliminating war, environmental destruction and squalor is tied directly to what China has built and which has already pulled over 800 million souls out of poverty. NASA even recently confirmed that earth’s biomass grew by 10% entirely because of India and China’s commitment to industrial progress- overturning the foolish notion that economic growth and environmental health must always be at odds.

This is the system which existed only as a dream unknown to most in the west as I watched World Vision programs encouraging me to beg my mother to give $1/day to a kid in Guatemala whose life had been destroyed by that same system which today threatens to destroy what little is left of the third world through a Green New Deal.

Tyler Durden Wed, 10/02/2019 - 22:55
Published:10/2/2019 10:14:50 PM
[worldNews] U.S. House committees seek to hold line on Pompeo in impeachment probe The leaders of three U.S. House of Representatives committees accused Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of intimidating witnesses on Tuesday, and said doing so is illegal and "will constitute evidence of obstruction."
Published:10/1/2019 9:25:35 PM
[Markets] We're About To Find Life On Mars But The World Is "Not Prepared", NASA Scientist Warns We're About To Find Life On Mars But The World Is "Not Prepared", NASA Scientist Warns

Authored by Elias Marat via TheMindUnleashed.com,

As we humble earthlings begin to learn more about the universe and potentially stand on the cusp of great discoveries about the planet Mars, we may not be prepared for what’s in store of us, warns the chief scientist of U.S. space agency NASA.

Dr. Jim Green believes that as two rovers from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) prepare to embark for Mars next summer, humanity could be overwhelmed by the implications of studies to come.

Speaking to the Telegraph, the director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division compared the potential discoveries to Rennaissance-era astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus’ theory that postulated that the Earth revolves around the Sun, rather than vice-versa.

The Copernican model, which is credited with revolutionizing science during the 16th century, earned him the condemnation of the Roman Catholic Church due to the model’s impact on the Church’s doctrines relating to astronomy.

“It will start a whole new line of thinking. I don’t think we’re prepared for the results.

I’ve been worried about that because I think we’re close to finding it and making some announcements.”

The ESA’s ExoMars Rover and NASA’s Mars 2020 are set to drill 6.5 feet into the Red Planet’s core to take samples in hopes of finding evidence of life on. The samples will be processed and examined in a mobile laboratory that will look for any traces of organic matter.

Green said that if scientists find biosignatures of life in Mars’ crust, a new era of astrobiology could begin.

“What happens next is a whole new set of scientific questions.

Is that life like us? How are we related?

Can life move from planet-to-planet or do we have a spark and just the right environment and that spark generates life – like us or not like us – based on the chemical environment that it is in?”

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover is set to launch next July before making the 140-million mile trek to Mars and landing on its Jezero Crater in February 2021.

With two high-definition cameras and a detachable helicopter drone, the rover is set to collect an unprecedented batch of visual data and images of the cavernous and cliffy terrain of Mars.

However, the primary mission of the rover is to find signs of life. Habitable environments and biosignatures left in rock are being sought so that samples can be studied back on earth.

The latest research has shown that many planets believed to have always been uninhabitable may have once enjoyed conditions suitable for sustaining life. Earlier this year, NASA’s InSight rover found evidence of a potentially vast global reservoir of water on Mars.

Dr. Green notes that research also suggests the existence of civilizations on other planets. He commented:

 “There is no reason to think that there isn’t civilization elsewhere, because we are finding exoplanets [planets lying beyond the solar system] all over the place.”

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/01/2019 - 22:05
Published:10/1/2019 9:25:35 PM
[Aerospace] NASA awards $43.2M to Blue Origin, SpaceX and others for tech to take us to the Moon and Mars NASA has announced the total funding it will distribute to the 14 companies it’s chosen to work with on developing key, innovative technologies that will be instrumental in helping get the agency to the Moon through the Artemis program, and potential to Mars and beyond later on. The U.S. space agency is awarding $43.2 million […] Published:10/1/2019 4:09:04 PM
[Markets] Will Billionaires Embrace Wealth Tax As "Investment In Social Stability"? Will Billionaires Embrace Wealth Tax As "Investment In Social Stability"?

Via Global Macro Monitor,

America's Perilous Path Of Wealth Distribution

Summary

  • We illustrate the stark contrast in the growth of household wealth between the different percentile groups since Q1 2000

  • The top 1% of households now hold more wealth than the bottom 90%

  • The aggregate nominal wealth of the bottom 50% of households has fallen by almost 10 percent since 2000, from 3.4 percent of total household wealth to just 1.3 percent

  • The share of the top 1% is now over 31 percent and has grown by over 165 percent since Q1 2000

  • The average wealth per household of the bottom 50% has declined 25 percent in nominal terms and 50 percent in real purchasing power compared to the 1%’s increase of 118 percent and 50 percent, respectively

  • The widening wealth gap is a major factor in the rise of populism in the U.S. and the debate over a wealth tax will be a central focus of the 2020 presidential election

  • Asset inflation resulting from quantitative easing (QE) has contributed to the widening wealth gap

  • Long pitchforks and water cannons

Wealth Tax Talk

We hear a lot these days about wealth taxes.   A new wealth tax on the upper echelons of the top 1% of wealthiest households will likely be at the center of the 2020 presidential campaign.

This kind of rhetoric and these ideas just don’t happen in a vacuum and are gaining political momentum.  Our analysis will illustrate how it is based and moored in the two-decade-long change in the country’s distribution of wealth.

The prediction markets now give Elizabeth Warren a 50 percent probability of winning the Democratic nomination compared to only 21 percent for Joe Biden.

Here is a little snippet of Elizabeth Warren’s plan for a wealth tax from her campaign website.

 ..an Ultra-Millionaire Tax on America’s 75,000 richest families to produce trillions that can be used to build an economy that works for everyone — elizabethwarren.com

During the next week, we will present a series of posts analyzing wealth distribution in the United States, which seems to have reached a political tipping point.  The top 1% of American households now have more wealth than the bottom 90% compared to 79 percent of the bottom 90% in Q1 2000.

In this post, we briefly present some data and charts on the growing wealth inequality between the top 1% and the bottom 50% of U.S. households.

Changes In Wealth For Average Household 

Just a few caveats before looking at the following charts.

First, see our post, Be Skeptics Of Macro Data In The Two-Speed Economy, warning about looking at averages when data distributions are so skewed.   This is illustrated in the bible of wealth distribution, the Fed’s Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF),  

Note the significant differences between the average and median data points,  which is the result of the top-heavy distribution of wealth in the U.S. where 70 percent of household wealth is now held by the top 10%,  pulling up and distorting the average.

Second,  our estimate of the number of households, which we have sourced from the Census Bureau and extrapolated for the current year.  There is an ongoing debate about what constitutes a household and a family.   Nevertheless, we are very confident our estimates in the following two charts are very good and close approximations of the data that will be eventually published in the next SCF, which should be out in a year or two.

The Raw Data

The following table illustrates the aggregate wealth data from the Fed’s new Distributional Financial Accounts (DFA).  Note we use the terms “wealth” and “net worth” interchangeably.

Though the DFA time series begins in 1989, we use Q1 2000 as our base year not only because it represents the beginning of the new Millenium but it was also the quarter of peak aggregate nominal wealth for the bottom 50% of households.

Key Takeaway

The most stunning takeaway, at least for us, from the table is that the nominal aggregate wealth of the bottom 50% has declinedunderscore fallen in nominal terms, over the past 19 years.   That is almost a 10 percent decline while, at the same time, the wealth of the top 1% has increased by 166 percent.   The share of the total household wealth of the bottom 50% has dropped from a mere 3.4 percent in 2000 to 1.3 percent in Q1 2019.

The aggregate wealth of the top 1% relative to the bottom 50% has increased from a factor of 8.5 to 24.6 from Q1 2000 to Q1 2019.  Stunning and politically dangerous.

The data are even starker when taking into account that household formation has grown by over 20 percent since the beginning of 2000.

Real Average Wealth/Net Worth Per Household

Go no further to understand America’s rising populism and growing political conflict than the above two charts.  It also illustrates the country’s two-speed economy and the sharp contrast of the economic well being of the top percentile groups and the bottom 50% of U.S. households.

Real-World Example Of Wealth Decimation

It is hard to comprehend the decimation in purchasing power of the wealth of the average household on the other side of middle from 2000 to 2019 but let us help with a simple real-life example.

In 2000, the average wealth per household of the bottom 50%, assuming a family of four, could purchase 163 day passes at Disneyland.  In 2019, however, given the decline in nominal wealth and the increase in Disneyland ticket prices, which have outpaced core CPI by more than 5x, fell to just 36 days.

Official Inflation Data Flawed

Just an aside, the relative increase in Disney tickets illustrates why we are so skeptical of and think the official inflation data calculated by the government underestimates real-world price increases, which are what truly matter with respect to a consumer’s real purchasing power.

Yes, we do understand relative price changes and that Samsung large screen televisions are much less expensive than they were in 2000.

Another Data Caveat 

One should not make the mistake of viewing the above comparisons as a panel study.  That is there is no doubt that some households were in the bottom 50% in 2000 are now in the top 1%, and vice versa.

In addition,  the data are averaged with a range from a deeply negative net worth for the lowest percentiles of the bottom 50% to around $100k of the top percentile of the bottom 50%.   Ditto for the top 1% where a few of the highest percentile households hold over $100 billion in wealth and the lowest of the top 1%, i.e., the 99th percentile of all U.S. households, is just over $10 million.

Keep that in perspective, folks, during your meditation on the data.

Why The Wealth Divergence?

One, or the major factor of the wealth divergence is that the returns earned on assets such as stocks, bonds, and equity in private businesses have greatly exceeded the growth of wages, which have been nothing short been dismal over the past 20 years.  The several rounds of quantitative easing (QE) and the subsequent asset inflation have greatly contributed to the problem, increasing the support for some kind of a People’s QE.

We also illustrated in an earlier post how debt-laden the bottom 50% is relative to other percentile groups.

Upshot

So, there you have it, folks.

It doesn’t take a Ph.D. economist or political scientist to understand what, we believe, is the biggest problem in today’s political economy.  Just contemplate and study the few charts and data points above.

It will certainly be one of the main drivers of the 2020 presidential election and the winner will most likely be the candidate who convinces the majority of the electoral college or voters in the swing states, that he/she can best fix the problem or, more darker, is better at exploiting the rage against it.  Yikes!

Either way, we suspect the 2020 campaign will be very ugly.

The concept of fairness in the distribution of resources is not just political but the literature increasingly shows is more innate.   The perception of fairness also triggers more cooperation and helps an economy and society become more efficient  and run more smoothly.

See our June post, The Innate Angst Of Inequality, or take a few minutes to view the video in the Appendix at the bottom of this post.

Can Markets Handle A Hard-Left Turn?

We are not so sure asset markets can handle and sustain a hard-left political turn.  We are fairly certain, however, the current trajectory of the distribution of household wealth is not politically sustainable.

We are hoping for new policies that focus more on equitable growth, pulling the lower middle and bottom 50% of households up to close the wealth gap rather a radical redistribution of wealth program.  The quickest but ugliest path to close the wealth gap is for both public and private equity markets to take, say, a 50 percent hit, which will end up hurting the most vulnerable.

I recall a conversation with one of my lefty political science professors during the dot.com crash.  I asked if he was happy that the wealth gap between the richest man in the world at the time, Bill Gates, and the poorest person (maybe it was me) was cut in half with the crash of the Nasdaq.  He responded, “no, let’s not do it that way.”  Good for him.

Wealth Tax As An Investment In Social Stability

Nevertheless, some sort of redistribution of wealth from the uber-wealthy is inevitable, in our opinion.  After all, the top of the top 1% have taken down an extraordinarily disproportionate share of the increase in total household wealth since 2000.  They should view some sort of a wealth tax as an investment in the country’s social infrastructure and political stability in order to protect the totality of their asset holdings.

Whatever the scenario, the markets are vulnerable and to extract ourselves from this mess it is going to take some very effective and competent leadership with lots of nuance and finesse. 'Apollo 13'-like leadership and finesse.

…to return the [Apollo 13] astronauts safely, a new return trajectory had to be calculated and that is where his education in physics, as well as his experience at NASA, came into play. Calculating that return trajectory was like threading a needle from 70 feet away, he said. “We had to be accurate.”

“Apollo 13 was a test of real leadership and how we took a potential tragedy and turned it into a success,” he said. “All of us had a conviction to ride Apollo 13 to the end. We never thought we couldn’t do it.’ — Cherokee Phoenix

Stay tuned for more data posts.

Long pitchforks and water cannons, for now.

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/30/2019 - 20:25
Published:9/30/2019 7:34:44 PM
[The Blog] NASA scientist: We’re “not ready” to know about extraterrestrial life

Oh, I think we can handle it

The post NASA scientist: We’re “not ready” to know about extraterrestrial life appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:9/30/2019 4:01:22 PM
[Markets] Martin Armstrong: No Evidence Of Human-Induced Climate Change Martin Armstrong: No Evidence Of Human-Induced Climate Change

Authored by Martin Armstrong via ArmstrongEconomics.com,

Climate has ALWAYS changed from decade to decade. 

There were major swings (volatility) during the 1930s. You had the dust bowl during the summer and in 1936 you had record cold. The 1936 North American cold wave, which also hit Japan and China, still rank among the most intense cold waves in the recorded history of North America. You cannot blame this on soccer moms driving the kids around town burning fossil fuels. Cars were a luxury in the 1930s still.

There is just no evidence of human-induced climate change. There is nobody willing to call them out on this nonsense with just showing the dramatic swings in temperature over the centuries.

Here is a piece that appeared in the Weekend Australian on the covert issues behind the curtain.

It’s a well-kept secret, but 95 per cent of the climate models we are told prove the link between human CO2 emissions and catastrophic global warming have been found, after nearly two decades of temperature stasis, to be in error.

It’s not surprising.

We have been subjected to extravagance from climate catastrophists for close to 50 years.

In January 1970Life magazine, based on “solid scientific evidence”, claimed that by 1985 air pollution would reduce the sunlight reaching the Earth by half. In fact, across that period sunlight fell by between 3 per cent and 5 per cent. In a 1971 speech, Paul Ehrlich said: “If I were a gambler I would take even money that ­England will not exist in the year 2000.”

Fast forward to March 2000 and David Viner, senior research scientist at the Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, told The Independent, “Snowfalls are now a thing of the past.” In December 2010, the Mail Online reported, “Coldest December since records began as temperatures plummet to minus 10C bringing travel chaos across Britain”.

We’ve had our own busted predictions. Perhaps the most preposterous was climate alarmist Tim Flannery’s 2005 observation: “If the computer records are right, these drought conditions will become permanent in eastern Australia.” Subsequent rainfall and severe flooding have shown the records or his analysis are wrong. We’ve swallowed dud prediction after dud prediction. What’s more, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which we were instructed was the gold standard on global warming, has been exposed repeatedly for ­mis­rep­resentation and shoddy methods.

Weather bureaus appear to have “homogenised” data to suit narratives. NASA’s claim that 2014 was the warmest year on record was revised, after challenge, to only 38 per cent probability. Extreme weather events, once blamed on global warming, no longer are, as their frequency and intensity decline.

Why then, with such little evidence, does the UN insist the world spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year on futile climate change policies? Perhaps Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN’s Framework on Climate Change has the answer?

In Brussels last February she said, “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years since the Industrial Revolution.”

In other words, the real agenda is concentrated political authority. Global warming is the hook.

Figueres is on record saying democracy is a poor political system for fighting global warming. Communist China, she says, is the best model. This is not about facts or logic. It’s about a new world order under the control of the UN. It is opposed to capitalism and freedom and has made environmental catastrophism a household topic to achieve its objective.

Figueres says that, unlike the Industrial Revolution, “This is a centralised transformation that is taking place.” She sees the US partisan divide on global warming as “very detrimental”. Of course. In her authoritarian world there will be no room for debate or ­disagreement.

Make no mistake, climate change is a must-win battlefield for authoritarians and fellow travellers. As Timothy Wirth, president of the UN Foundation, says: “Even if the ­(climate change) theory is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic and environmental policy.”

Having gained so much ground, eco-catastrophists won’t let up. After all, they have captured the UN and are extremely well funded. They have a hugely powerful ally in the White House. They have successfully enlisted compliant academics and an obedient and gullible mainstream media (the ABC and Fairfax in Australia) to push the scriptures regardless of evidence.

They will continue to present the climate change movement as an independent, spontaneous consensus of concerned scientists, politicians and citizens who believe human activity is “extremely likely” to be the dominant cause of global warming. (“Extremely likely” is a scientific term?)

And they will keep mobilising public opinion using fear and appeals to morality. UN support will be assured through promised wealth redistribution from the West, even though its anti-growth policy prescriptions will needlessly prolong poverty, hunger, sickness and illiteracy for the world’s poorest.

Figueres said at a climate ­summit in Melbourne recently that she was “truly counting on Australia’s leadership” to ensure most coal stayed in the ground.

Hopefully, like India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Tony Abbott isn’t listening. India knows the importance of cheap energy and is set to overtake China as the world’s leading importer of coal. Even Germany is about to commission the most coal-fired power stations in 20 years.

There is a real chance Figueres and those who share her centralised power ambitions will succeed. As the UN’s December climate change conference in Paris approaches, Australia will be pressed to sign even more futile job-destroying climate change treaties.

Resisting will be politically difficult. But resist we should. We are already paying an unnecessary social and economic price for empty gestures. Enough is enough.

Tyler Durden Mon, 09/30/2019 - 14:20
Published:9/30/2019 1:32:07 PM
[Mars Mission] Elon Musk Unveils SpaceX’s Newest Mars-Colonizing Spacecraft The rocket used in SpaceX's Mars mission will be twice as powerful as NASA's Saturn V, the largest rocket ever built. Published:9/30/2019 12:33:28 PM
[Markets] Prof Says Border Enforcement Harms Environment Prof Says Border Enforcement Harms Environment

Authored by Celine Ryan via CampusReform.org,

A study from a New Mexico professor claims that activity at the border affects nearby vegetation. The professor who authored the study is warning against increasing border enforcement for fear of damaging the environment in the immediate area

New Mexico Tech professor Haoying Wang set out to analyze the changes in vegetation along the U.S.-Mexico border and determine whether or not such changes could be attributed to climate change or illegal immigration.

By using NASA images and data from the Department of Agriculture, Wang found that “both illegal and legal activities have statistically significant impacts on the border region,” but that border patrol agents and the enforcement of the border have a much larger impact on the environment than actual completed illegal crossings. His findings suggest that if increased by 10 percent, illegal border crossings would cause a 13 percent decrease of vegetation in the immediate area, while a 20 percent increase in Border Patrol agents would damage vegetation by 135 percent.

Wang suggests that this difference hinges on factors such as the fact that Border Patrol uses heavy machinery while illegal immigrants’ actions of creating unauthorized roads are less invasive. He does not address the inherent differing impacts of an increase in staffers remaining on the border for an extended period of time as opposed to an increase in immigrants momentarily passing through. 

“Typically, you have people hiding out in areas along the border for a few days or weeks,” Wang told The Albuquerque Journal.

“They leave campfires … that can be harmful. They are leaving trash. They are also leaving trails where there hadn’t been trails before. Border Patrol agents are also creating trails with their heavy equipment.”

The professor concludes that it “can be challenging to manage both the natural resources and border security effectively” and says that his findings “should be able to shed some light on finding a solution that could integrate the stewardship of the natural environment and a secure border.” Such a solution, Wang says, “can only become effective in the context of binational economic integration.”

Wang is reportedly in collaboration with the National Park Service about solutions. While he admits that a decrease in illegal border crossings would help the situation, he says an increase in border enforcement and security would likely result in more of the same detrimental effects. He has stated that a border wall would also cause harm to the environment. 

In a statement to Campus Reform, Wang called his study "non-partisan." 

"In general, for any policy, while it intends to bring social welfare improvement we have to concern about any unintended consequences it may leave behind as well. For a fixed border barrier, most of the existing studies have shown that it could have a significant impact on wildlife. A lot of species have their habitats spanning across the border and free movement can be important to their reproduction and livelihood," he added.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/25/2019 - 18:30
Published:9/25/2019 5:33:04 PM
[Space] Watch a Roscosmos rocket launch the next crew of the International Space Station live NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, Rocscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and first-time UAE spaceflight traveler Hazza Ali Almansoori are all set to launch aboard a Roscosmos rocket in a Soyuz capsule, as part of the Expedition 61 crew launch to the International Space Station. The crew is set to take off from Kazakhstan at 9:57 AM EDT, […] Published:9/25/2019 9:04:25 AM
[Markets] NASA And ESA Announce Plans For "Insurance Policy For Earth" NASA And ESA Announce Plans For "Insurance Policy For Earth"

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and the ESA (Europeans Space Agency) are finally ready to test the Earth’s planetary defenses to see whether we can successfully defend ourselves from the apparent scourge of “space rocks”. Calling it an “insurance policy for Earth,” scientists intend to smash a spacecraft into an asteroid at over 14,000 miles per hour.

According to RT, the target they have chosen to crash a spacecraft into is the asteroid Didymos B.  This space rock is roughly 160 meters in diameter, one half of a binary asteroid system. Didymos B orbits the larger asteroid Didymos A every 11.92 hours and this will help determine the ultimate success (or failure) of the mission. The Didymos system is classified as a Near-Earth Object (NEO), meaning it’s close but not too close that it might hit us, making it the perfect test subject to see how well Earth is prepared to steer an asteroid off a collision course with the Earth.

The joint asteroid impact and deflection assessment (AIDA) project launched by the ESA and NASA in 2015, and Earth’s champion selected for the mission will be NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft. 

“Today, we’re the first humans in history to have the technology to potentially deflect an asteroid from impacting the Earth,” astronomer Ian Carnelli of the ESA told Technology Review.

The key question that remains to be answered is, are the technologies and models that we have good enough to actually work? Before you drive a car, you need to have an insurance policy. Well, AIDA is the insurance policy for planet Earth.

Both space agencies are anticipating some problems with this mission, however.  Things may not go as smoothly as planned. For example, when the Japanese space agency JAXA bombed the asteroid Ryugu in April, it made a far bigger crater than anticipated. Additionally, the material on the surface behaved like sand, which may impact the effectiveness of deflection. There is no way to tell how Didymos B will react when it is struck with a man-made spacecraft.

“If gravity is also dominant at Didymos B, even though it is much smaller, we could end up with a much bigger crater than our models and lab-based experiments to date have shown,” explained planetary scientist Patrick Michel of CNRS. 

“Ultimately, very little is known about the behavior of these small bodies during impacts and this could have big consequences for planetary defense.”

The DART will ram into Didymos B at 23,760 kilometers per hour (14,760mph). However, all that force will only translate into a change in the asteroid’s velocity of just a centimeter per second or so, which could change the orbital period from almost 12 hours to a mere matter of minutes.

The mission is set to launch in July 2021, with the impact expected in September 2022.

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/24/2019 - 23:05
Published:9/24/2019 10:26:09 PM
[Politics] NASA Faces Political Roadblock in Getting to Moon NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is lobbying hard for funding for the Artemis program, but faces an uphill battle to sell the lunar initiative to Congress, according to The Washington Post. Published:9/24/2019 8:25:50 PM
[Science] NASA orders up to a dozen Orion spacecraft from Lockheed Martin for Moon missions NASA has placed an order for a minimum of six, and as many as 12 Orion spacecraft from Lockheed Martin. The Orion is a spacecraft that Lockheed Martin designed and built specifically for the purpose of flying crewed missions to space, and the first Orion recently completed construction ahead of testing and preparation for its […] Published:9/24/2019 7:59:55 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: Lockheed Martin, Facebook, Pinduoduo Move On News Dow Jones futures: Lockheed Martin neared a buy on a NASA contract. Pinduoduo fell on a debt offering. Facebook will buy brain-computing startup CTRL-labs. Published:9/23/2019 9:52:26 PM
[Artemis program] This Inflatable Space Habitat Could House the Next Astronauts to Walk on the Moon If NASA green-lights the habitat, Bigelow officials say that it could be ready to ship in as little as 42 months. Published:9/21/2019 9:34:13 AM
[Markets] Is California About To Get Hit By A Hurricane For The Very First Time In History? Is California About To Get Hit By A Hurricane For The Very First Time In History?

Authored by Michael Snyder via The End of The American Dream blog,

In the entire history of our country, a hurricane has never made landfall in the state of California.  So if such a thing actually happened, it would be considered to be an extremely unusual event.  Well, right now there are three very dangerous tropical storms swirling in the eastern Pacific Ocean.  Tropical Storm Kiko is not expected to be a serious threat to make landfall, but Tropical Storm Lorena and Tropical Storm Mario “are expected to become hurricanes by Friday as they approach the Mexican coast”Tropical Storm Lorena is the more immediate threat, and the latest forecast is projecting that it will reach Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula by Saturday.  If it maintains hurricane strength and continues to ride up the west coast, it is entirely possible that we could see something that we have never seen before.  Most forecasters don’t want to talk too much about it yet, because it truly would be an unprecedented event, but there really is a chance that California could get hit by a hurricane for the very first time in U.S. history.

Let’s back up a bit and take a look at the bigger picture.  According to USA Today, a record-tying six named storms are being tracked by meteorologists right now, and three of those are in the eastern Pacific…

Sure, it’s the middle of hurricane season. But this is ridiculous.

The six named storms whirling at once this week in the Atlantic and Pacific set a record, forecasters reported.

“While Humberto and Kiko were spinning in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific, four new tropical cyclones formed Tuesday: Imelda and Jerry in the Atlantic Basin, and Mario and Lorena in the Eastern Pacific Basin,” the Weather Channel reported.

Tropical Storm Lorena is expected to become a hurricane shortly, and according to the Weather Channel hurricane warnings have already been issued for much of the Baja California Peninsula…

A hurricane warning has been posted on the Baja California Peninsula from La Paz to Santa Fe, Mexico. This means hurricane-force winds (74-plus mph) are expected somewhere within the warning area – in this case, within the next 24 hours. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

The projected track of the storm will take it very close to southern California, but that does not necessarily mean that it will make landfall.  So many things could still happen, and as we have seen in recent weeks, forecasting the behavior of hurricanes is not an exact science.

But if Lorena or Mario does make landfall along the California coastline, it will truly be a historic event.  According to NASA, there has never been a documented case of a hurricane making landfall in the state…

While there has never been a documented case of a hurricane making landfall in California, the Golden State has had its share of run-ins and close calls with tropical cyclones. In fact, California has been affected by at least a few tropical cyclones in every decade since 1900. Over that timeframe, three of those storms brought gale-force winds to California: an unnamed California tropical storm in 1939, Kathleen in 1976 and Nora in 1997. But the primary threat from California tropical cyclones isn’t winds or storm surge. It’s rainfall — sometimes torrential — which has led to flooding, damage and, occasionally, casualties.

So we are talking about something that would be considered to be an extremely strange event.

The primary reason why hurricanes usually never make landfall in California is because the water off of the California coast is usually quite cold.  The following comes from Wikipedia

Tropical cyclones usually require very warm water to depth, generally above 26.5 °C (80 °F) extending to a depth of 50 meters (160 ft).[1] However, the waters off California are cold even in summer. They rarely rise above 24 °C (75 °F) in near-shore southern California,[2] and usually remain below 17 °C (63 °F) along most of the rest of the coast and outer coastal waters, although El Niño events may warm the waters somewhat. This is due primarily to the extensive upwelling of colder sub-surface waters caused by the prevailing northwesterly winds acting through the Ekman Effect. The winds drive surface water to the right of the wind flow, that is offshore, which draws water up from below to replace it. The upwelling further cools the already cool California Current which runs north to south along coastal California and even much of coastal Baja California.

But right now a “strange anomaly” has caused water temperatures in the region to heat up dramatically.  The following comes from an article that I published earlier this month

It is being called “the Pacific marine heatwave of 2019”, and officials are warning that it could have very frightening implications if it does not dissipate soon. Right now, there is a vast expanse of water stretching from northern Alaska all the way to southern California where the water temperatures have rapidly risen to very dangerous levels. In fact, in some spots the water temperature is already “as much as 6 degrees Fahrenheit above normal”, and there is a tremendous amount of concern about what will happen if the water continues to become even warmer. At this point things are already so bad that we are being warned that this strange anomaly could “ravage marine life and decimate commercial fishing” all along the west coast.

This means that conditions along the west coast of the United States are now quite favorable for major storms, and it makes it much less likely that Lorena and Mario will quickly fizzle out once they track farther north.

And if either Lorena or Mario does make landfall in California, many will consider that to be a really, really troubling sign.

Let’s review what we know at this hour.

We know that Tropical Storm Lorena and Tropical Storm Mario are both expected to become hurricanes very shortly, and we know that Lorena and Mario are both tracking north along the Mexican coast toward California.

And we also know that water temperatures along the California coast are much, much higher than normal right now, thus creating exceedingly favorable conditions for storms such as Lorena and Mario.

That doesn’t mean that either of them will make landfall in California, but it does mean that we should be watching these storms very carefully over the next several days.

Tyler Durden Fri, 09/20/2019 - 16:25
Tags
Published:9/20/2019 3:28:57 PM
[Markets] Goldman Goes "Lehman Weekend" On Oil: Expects Chaos When Trading Reopens Goldman Goes "Lehman Weekend" On Oil: Expects Chaos When Trading Reopens

Exactly 11 years to the day since traders organized an emergency impromptu CDS unwind session on Sunday afternoon ahead of Lehman's shocking September 15, 2008 bankruptcy filing, major banks are preparing for similar Sunday chaos, only this time in the crude oil market in the aftermath of Saturday's shocking drone attack on the most important oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia (and the world) which may result in a production shortfall of millions of bpd that stretches for days if not weeks, and lead to an explosion in oil prices (for those who are reading this early on Sunday afternoon, gas up your car now before gasoline prices surge on Monday).

First, we present the email that was just sent out by Saxo's Christopher Dembik, indicating that when Brent reopens, it will surge as much as $5-10 in the Asian session:

Very short comment on what is happening in the oil market.

Following the events in Saudi Arabia, well-informed market participants expect that oil prices may increase by $5-10 per barrel in the Asian session.

Higher pressure on CNY, but also negative for TRY and INR due to elevated current account deficits.

Too early to assess the exact macro impact by it is bright clear we don’t need an oil shock…

The bottom line: oil may spike much more if the return to normal production takes longer than expected. Sure enough, that is the main point conveyed in an email that was just blasted out by Goldman sales (not research) to the bank's top clients around the globe, with a message is simple: expect chaos when oil reopens... and sharply higher prices.

A shocking lack of additional information has been released since the initial headlines yesterday afternoon that attacks on Saudi infrastructure would halt nearly half of Saudi output.  With even Donald Trump quiet on the issue there remains more questions than answers.

A thorough summary of events and quick market backdrop from my colleague, Elise Backman, is attached.  The long and short of it being that the Saudi’s Abqaiq facility processes up to 7mbd of crude and Khurais that was also hit produces about 1.5 mbd. It’s not an overstatement to call Abqaiq and its surrounding areas the heart of Aramco’s empire. In our view, the flaring pictures from NASA satellites make it very likely that some production is down; these flares are likely not from the attacks but more from the facilities going into emergency shutdowns.  Aramco is built and setup with a lot of redundancies which is why you rarely hear of major outages – given the importance of Abqaiq we expect these redundancies (extra piping, spare stabilization units, extra tanks, etc.) to be even more prevalent at the facility.

 

 

However, this is a meaningful change for the crude market and highlights the vulnerability of Saudi infrastructure, and ongoing instability of the Middle East.  While the market needs more information in order to make a determination on the direct impact to balances our expectation is for the market to trade definitively stronger with high levels of activity from the discretionary, systematic and corporate community likely creating a raft of opportunities.

Expect chaos to begin at 6pm sharp, when futures reopen:

We will be staffed globally from Market Open this evening (6pm EST/11pm BST) with best efforts on pricing subject to market tradability.

And just to help traders make an informed decision (to submit a market buy order), here is what Goldman's energy analyst, Damien Courvalin and teams, published on the situation moments ago:

Attacks on Saudi oil assets to support prices; magnitude uncertain but likely capped. High level summary from research is below.  We expect estimates to be updated as new information becomes available.

Research Bottom Line:

Two oil facilities in Saudi Arabia were targeted on Saturday by drone attacks, with the extent of the damage highly uncertain yet potentially significant: half of current production was halted while reports indicate that a re-start of most oil output could occur in days or weeks. The potential for a prompt resumption of production hinges on the fact that most damage occurred at a processing plant rather than a field.

This is nonetheless a historically large disruption on critical oil infrastructure and these events represent a sharp escalation in threats to global supply with risks of further attacks. These events are therefore set to support oil prices at their open on Sunday, especially given recent growth concerns and low levels of positioning. The magnitude of such a price rally is difficult to estimate in the absence of official comments on the timeline and scale of production losses. We nonetheless provide a rough first estimate of possible outcomes based on our pricing framework and the experiences of the 2018 Iranian sanctions and the 2011 Libya production losses:

  • A very short outage – a week for example – would likely drive long-dated prices higher to reflect a growing risk premium, although short of what occurred last fall given a debottlenecked Permian shale basin, a weaker growth outlook and prospects of strong non-OPEC production growth in 2020. Such a price impact could likely be of $3-5/bbl.
  • An outage at current levels of two to six weeks would, in addition to this move in long-dated prices, see a steepening of the Brent forward curve (2-mo vs. 3-year forward) of $2 to $9/bbl respectively. All in, the expected price move would be between $5 and $14/bbl, commensurate to the length of the outage (a six month outage of 1 mb/d would be similar to a six week one at current levels).
  • Should the current level of outage be announced to last for more than six weeks, we expect Brent prices to quickly rally above $75/bbl, a level at which we believe an SPR release would likely be implemented, large enough to balance such a deficit for several months and cap prices at such levels.
  • An extreme net outage of a 4 mb/d for more than three months would likely bring prices above $75/bbl to trigger both large shale supply and demand responses.

Finally, here is a recap of events that took place over the past 36 hours from Goldman's sales team:

Following on overnight events / earlier WSJ article, please find additional color from the desk below. Note, we will have desk coverage starting at 6pm EST on Sunday.

Summary of events:

Quick market recap:

  • As of Friday’s close, Nov BRT settled $60.22. 1m ATM BRT vols were around 31.3%. Call skew was around -1.8v in 1m BRT. This is about 10 vols lower than the 6m high and 4.8v lower for skew in the same time-frame.
  • As of last Tuesday, investors had added about 124k contracts WoW across the oil complex (51.6k in BRT alone) – however, the complex is still down 420k contracts YoY and -150k contracts in BRT net length.
  • There is about 13k on $65 Call strike in BRT, 12k OI on $70 strike, and 17k OI on $75 strike (Nov options expire 25Sep).

Key questions from here:

  • Please note there has been significant speculation as to the party/parties responsible for the attacks with no official conclusion or statement yet made.
  • Will Saudi actually be able to return production by Monday / what is the extent of the damage at relevant fields, oil processing facilities (is there any permanent damage)?
  • Will there be future attacks on key elements of Aramco infrastructure?
  • Will Saudis respond / how?
  • Was Iran involved in the attack, if so how (i.e. IRGC acting independently from official government action?)
  • How does this affect Trump Administration’s stance on potentially softening Iranian sanctions - particularly given the domestic political implications of higher oil prices heading into the general election / recent headlines around NSA Bolton leaving the Administration (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/bolton-fired-disagreeing-trump-i…)?

Relevant charts (Sources are GS Securities Internal unless otherwise stated. Past performance not indicative of future results).

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/15/2019 - 14:03
Published:9/15/2019 1:25:42 PM
[Markets] Could Be "Weeks" Before Aramco Restores Full Production Capacity As Specter Of $100 Oil Looms Could Be "Weeks" Before Aramco Restores Full Production Capacity As Specter Of $100 Oil Looms

With the Saudis now racing to restore full oil production to normal levels as one Sunday morning headline noted, the industry is bracing for a potential significant delay in production — given rumors the fires at the facilities struck in the early hours of Saturday may not be fully "under control" as the kingdom was quick to assure hours after the raging explosions — which could translate into oil prices being very high for a long time. Industry sources said it could take weeks to return full production levels to normal.

Following what Yemen's Houthis claimed was their own successful targeting of Saudi Arabia's second largest oil field in the Khurais, as well as the sprawling Abqaiq oil processing facility in Buqyaq  described by Aramco as "the largest crude oil stabilization plant in the world" — the Saudi company acknowledged it was forced to slash its output by half, equal to about 5% of world supply, specifically 5.7 million barrels a day of oil production lost. In the meantime, Saudi Arabia’s stock market fell by 2.3% at Sunday’s open.

Satellite imagery showing the scene at Abqaiq crude processing facility in Buqyaq,Sept. 14, 2019. Via Planet Labs/NBC

What will Monday bring? Upon market opening there's widespread prediction oil will rally by $5 to $10 per barrel, and as we were among the first to notecould eventually hit $100 per barrel — the latter alarming scenario dependent on how slow or fast the facilities can be brought back online.

As Bloomberg detailed, citing insiders familiar with Aramco operations:

Aramco would need weeks to restore full production capacity to a normal level, according to people familiar with the matter. The producer however can restore significant volume of oil production within days, they said. Aramco could consider declaring force majeure on some international shipments if the resumption of full capacity at Abqaiq takes weeks, they said.

Aramco's president and CEO Amin Nasser announced Sunday, “Work is underway to restore production and a progress update will be provided in around 48 hours.” 

Though the company says alternative plans are in place to temporarily make up for the shortfall, such as tapping Aramco's global storage network, the 5.7 million barrels a day outage is the single worst supply disruption even over and against that brought on by the first Gulf War and the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.

“If it’s protracted it could be a big challenge for the oil markets,” Mele Kyari, CEO of Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. told Bloomberg Television on Sunday of the "significant disruption". 

Meanwhile NASA satellite imaging showed that 24 hours after the attack, smoke over Abqaiq had dissipated, but elsewhere in Ghawar oilfield, the world’s largest, multiple massive plumes were still visible.

Though other installations like Ghawar were not attacked, excess oil and natural gas going to Abqaiq have to be burned off via relief flares due to emergency shutdowns.

Hours into the daylight hours of Saturday even after Saudi authorities and state media claimed the fires were "under control", skeptics analyzing local photos as well as satellite imagery said it wasn't the case that the facilities had blazes under control as fast as they claimed.

Here is a brief line-up of early reactions from market trader and analysts via Reuters:

* * *

Bob McNally, Rapidan Energy

Crude prices would spike by at least $15-20 per barrel in a seven-day disruption scenario and go well into triple digits in a 30-day scenario.

"This does not include what are likely to be large (if difficult to model or predict) premia to reflect zeroing out of global spare production capacity amidst ongoing disruption risks, hoarding, and panic sentiment."

Greg Newman, Onyx Commodities

Expects Brent futures to open $2 per barrel up and close $7 to $10 per barrel higher on Monday. The market could see a return to $100 per barrel if the issue cannot be resolved in the short term.

In the swaps market, Dubai timespreads could see a $1.50-$2 barrel backwardation as end-users scramble to cover shorts for short-term loading.

Refined product prices will be strong, with particular emphasis on high-sulphur fuel oil given current tightness and that it is the refinery product most closely linked to Saudi heavy crude.

Ayham Kamel, Eurasia Group

"A small $2-$3 per barrel premium would emerge if the damage appears to be an issue that can be resolved quickly, and $10 if the damage to Aramco’s facilities is significant."

"The scale of (the) attack will encourage markets to re-examine the need for considering an oil geopolitical risk premium ... The attacks could complicate Aramco’s IPO plans given rising security risks and potential impact on its valuation."

"The U.S. would only release crude from its strategic reserves if damage to infrastructure appears critical or oil prices spike significantly."

Samuel Cizul, Els Analysis

"The outage of 5 million barrels per day (MMbbl/d), roughly half of the current Saudi production level and about 5% of global supply, is very large by historic standards. It would in relatively few weeks start to put a stress on the market."

"This incident is a very uncomfortable wake-up call to radically higher risk premiums on Gulf production."

Christy Malek, JP Morgan

"I'd expect a $3-$5 move in oil prices in the short term. The market has been sleep-walking in risk premium in the region, disproportionately focusing on risk to demand growth and shale oil supply."

"This attack introduces a new, irreversible risk premium into the market."

Expects oil to rise to $80-90 a barrel over the next three-six months as the market turns its focus to geopolitics.

Gary Ross, Black Gold Investors

"The heart of the Saudi oil industry has been successfully attacked so look for prices to rise substantially to $65-$70 per barrel."

"These attacks are difficult to stop and could occur periodically. The market has to price this risk in."

John Driscoll, JTD Energy

"This is significant as it takes out twice the volume of the spare capacity in the market, which is at 2-2.5 MMbbl/d"

"There’s going to be an initial panic reaction. Anyone who’s hedged on the short side will want to get out quickly. This may cause a significant spike upwards."

Tilak Doshi, Muse & Stancil

"In the oil universe, this attack is perhaps equivalent to the 9/11 attacks ... Abqaiq is easily the world's single most important oil production and processing infrastructure site."

"This puts Iran's wars-by-proxy in the region squarely in the centre of the security concerns of the Middle East."
"For Asian governments, perhaps this overtakes the perennial concern about the safety of tanker traffic in the Strait of Hormuz with even more serious concerns about the impact of a direct breakout of hostilities between the Saudi alliance and Iran."

"Governments throughout the Asian region will perhaps now be more supportive of the U.S. administration's tough sanctions regime on Iran."

* * *

Without doubt, the world awaits for the looming potential shock in energy prices as markets open at the start of this week.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/15/2019 - 12:55
Published:9/15/2019 11:57:13 AM
[Markets] Massive Fires Erupt After Drone Strike Hits World's Largest Oil Processing Facility In Saudi Arabia Massive Fires Erupt After Drone Strike Hits World's Largest Oil Processing Facility In Saudi Arabia

What appears to be the most devastating Yemen Houthi rebel attack on Saudi Arabia to date, took place overnight on the world's largest oil processing facility as stunning videos emerged of massive explosions rocking the major Aramco Buqyaq facility.

Fires burned into the morning daylight hours, with explosions also reported at the Khurais oil field, in what the Houthis said was a successful attack involving ten drones. "These attacks are our right, and we warn the Saudis that our targets will keep expanding," a rebel military spokesman said on Houthi-operated Al Masirah TV.

Satellite images shows extent of fires following the attacks in eastern Saudi Arabia: NASA Worldview/AP

Saudi authorities — initially slow or reluctant to identify the cause of the major blaze on Saturday issued a confirmation via the Saudi Press Agency: "At 4.00am (01:00 GMT) the industrial security teams of Aramco started dealing with fires at two of its facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais as a result of... drones," an interior ministry statement said, which further claimed the fires were "under control".

However, the Saudis have stopped short of acknowledging the Houthis were behind the attack, which Riyadh is also likely to blame on Iran, which has lately promised that if it can't export its oil then "no one will". 

It remains unclear according to early statements whether there were injuries or casualties in the twin oil facility attacks.

In some of the video captured by onlookers outside the Buqayq facility, gunfire in or around the complex was apparent. 

The impact on global oil markets - closed for the weekend - could be significant given the Khurais field produces about 1% of all the world's oil (estimated at over 1M bpd and reserves of over 20BN bpd) and more importantly Abqaiq, which based on the stunning local footage bore the brunt of the drone attacks, remains the most crucial of the kingdom's processing plant.

Located 37 miles southwest of Aramco’s Dhahran headquarters, it controls all the flows from fields like the giant Ghawar field to coastal export terminals like Ras Tanura. Saudi Aramco describes the Buqyaq facility as "the largest crude oil stabilization plant in the world."

According to breaking reports the devastating drone attacks could impact up to 5 million bpd of oil production.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/14/2019 - 09:41
Published:9/14/2019 8:48:52 AM
[2019 News] NASA admits that climate change occurs because of changes in Earth’s solar orbit, and NOT because of SUVs and fossil fuels NASA admits that climate change occurs because of changes in Earth’s solar orbit, and NOT because of SUVs and fossil fuels.The biggest factor affecting earth’s climate is the SUN. Yes that big yellow heat factory in the sky the 97% of climatologists blatantly ignore. Based upon this we say OK ladies and gentlemen. It’s time […] Published:9/9/2019 10:48:50 AM
[Markets] India Reeling After Failed Historic Moon Landing Attempt India Reeling After Failed Historic Moon Landing Attempt

India is reeling after a hugely disappointing attempt at a moon landing has failed — the nation's second ever mission to the moon — a decade after its first successful mission to launch a probe into lunar orbit.

Contact with the moon lander Chandrayaan-2 was lost overnight Friday, just before it was to send a module to land at the lunar south pole to observe and measure lunar ice. It's being commonly described as a last minute communications loss resulting in complete loss of control of the space craft. 

The July 22 launch had been broadcast live to an audience of hundreds of millions. Image source: ISRO

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi acknowledged the mission's failure on Saturday, telling the Indian Space Research Organization he was proud of the program which had come so close to mission success. It would have made India the fourth nation to make a soft landing on the moon, after the United States, former Soviet Union and China.

India has sought to assert itself as a space superpower, even as the now failed Chandrayaan-2 mission was initiated on a shoe-string budget — at an estimated $140 million — which is a fraction of what NASA spends on similar missions.

Image via Space.com

The lunar rover's planned mission had been described as follows

The rover (called Pragyan - wisdom in Sanskrit) had the capacity to travel 500m from the lander in its 14-day life span, and would have sent data and images back to Earth for analysis.

The mission would have focused on the lunar surface, searching for water and minerals and measuring moonquakes, among other things.

Artist’s rendition of the Vikram lander deploying the Pragyan rover, via NewScientist.com

The initial July 22 launch had been broadcast live to an audience of hundreds of millions, and there were reported nationwide lunar landing watch parties being held in the middle of the night Friday as news of the lost communication hit. 

It's the second Indian space disaster in under a year as earlier an Indian test of an anti-satellite system broke up to dangerously create hundreds of pieces of space debris in low-Earth orbit. The failed satellite test and resulting space wreckage received wide international criticism. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/07/2019 - 19:30
Published:9/7/2019 6:39:46 PM
[Asia] Watch India’s Chandrayaan-2 make its historic moon landing attempt right here It’s a big day for India’s highly audacious Chandrayaan-2 mission. The nation will attempt to land its lunar orbit on the moon’s surface later today as it inches closer to become the fourth in the world to complete a successful lunar landing. ISRO, India’s equivalent of NASA, will be live streaming the landing on its […] Published:9/6/2019 2:36:43 PM
[Markets] 5 Surprising Scientific Facts About Earth's Climate

Authored by Vijay Jayaraj Jayaraj via The Foundation for Economic Education,

On the weekend of August 10–11, as if in chorus, major online news websites called on people to stop consuming meat. The calls echoed a recent United Nations report that recommended doing so to fight climate change.

It surprised many, but there are other more surprising facts about climate change that are hardly published in our everyday news media.

Below are some facts - scientifically recognized and published in peer-reviewed journals - that may raise your eyebrows.

All proxy temperature data sets reveal that there have been cyclical changes in climate in the past 10,000 years. There is not a single climate scientist who denies this well-established fact. It doesn’t matter what your position on the causes and magnitude and danger (or not) of current climate change is—you have to be on board on this one. Climate has always changed. And it has changed in both directions, hot and cold. Until at least the 17th century, all these changes occurred when almost all humans were hunters, gatherers, and farmers.

Industrialization did not happen until the 17th century. Therefore, no prior changes in climate were driven by human emissions of carbon dioxide. In the last 2,000 years alone, global temperatures rose at least twice (around the 1st and 10th centuries) to levels very similar to today’s, and neither of those warm periods were caused by humans.

Yes, you read that right. The 10,000-year Holocene paleoclimatology records reveal that both the Arctic and Antarctic are in some of their healthiest states. The only better period for the poles was the 17th century, during the Little Ice Age, when the ice mass levels were higher than today’s. For the larger part of the past 10,000 years, the ice mass levels were lower than today’s. Despite huge losses in recent decades, ice mass levels are at or near their historic highs.

If you paid attention to the previous fact, then the following one is not hard to understand. Polar bears—often used as a symbol of climate doomsday—are one of the key species in the Arctic. Contrary to the hype surrounding their extinction fear, the population numbers have actually increased in the past two decades.

Last year, the Canadian government considered increasing polar bear killing quotas as their increasing numbers posed a threat to the Inuit communities living in the Nunavut area.

The increase in population size flies in the face of those who continue to claim otherwise in the popular news media. And it is not just the polar bears in the Arctic. Other critical species elsewhere, like tigers, are also making a comeback.

While most of the current climatologists who collaborate with the United Nations believe anthropogenic CO2 emissions have exacerbated natural warming in recent decades, there is no empirical proof to support their claim. The only way to test it would be to wait and see if their assumptions come true.

The entire climate fraternity was in for a surprise when global temperature between 2000 and 2016 failed to rise as anticipated by the climate alarmists. The scientists assumed that rising CO2 emissions from human activity would result in a rapid rise in temperature, but they didn’t.

This proved that atmospheric CO2 concentrations are not the primary factor controlling global temperature. Consideration of a much longer period (10,000 or more years) suggests that CO2 had no significant role to play in temperature increases. CO2 never was the temperature control knob.

It would be naïve not to acknowledge this blatant and lopsided reporting in our news media.

These are some of the many climate facts that the media refuses to acknowledge, like the impending solar minimum that NASA has predicted for the next two solar cycles between 2021 and 2041, ushering in a period of global cooling like it did during the solar minimum of 17th century.

There are other facts that run contrary to popular belief, such that there has been no increase in the frequency or intensity of floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, droughts, or other extreme weather events. Even the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported low confidence that global warming—manmade or not—was driving increases in extreme weather events.

The list is endless.

Published:9/5/2019 8:57:14 AM
[Markets] "I Feel Helpless": Bottled Water, Gas Shortages Reported As Floridians Brace For Hurricane Dorian

By now, this has become a familiar scene for millions of Americans, particularly those living in the southeastern states of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, as well as Texas and Louisiana, all of which have been rocked by major hurricanes in recent years. With Hurricane Dorian barreling toward Florida, expected to make landfall as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, with 130 mph winds, this weekend.

According to WSJ, Floridians could begin feeling the impact of the storm as soon as Saturday. The NHC said Thursday that the storm is a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 85 mph, moving northwest over the Atlantic Ocean. Though it's too early to say exactly where it will make landfall, projections suggest it will hit the northwestern Bahamas before moving on to central and southern Florida. 

In Orange County, residents have already begun filling up sandbags at a local park.

The Bahamas and Florida could be under a hurricane watch as soon as Thursday evening. But Fla. Gov. Ron DeSantis has already declared a state of emergency that has been expanded to 67 counties, and secured promises of assistance from President Trump.

"The message I think right now is that all Floridians really need to monitor Hurricane Dorian and make necessary preparations," said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at a news conference Thursday morning. "This is a track that has a significant amount of uncertainty."

The entire East Coast of Florida is within the potential travel path of the storm, yet no evacuation orders have been issued yet. But the rush to stock up had already brought on fuel shortages in the Cape Canaveral area.

Those who have decided to remain in the area over the weekend are stocking up on essentials: Gasoline, packaged food, bottled water, batteries and other essentials.

The rush for supplies has left store shelves empty across Central Florida, with supplies of bottled water already dwindling, as the powerful, slow-moving storm has the potential to bring hurricane force winds and rain well inland from the coast.

One reporter quipped that "the water frenzy is real" in Tampa, along with a video of customers standing in a lengthy check-out line with carts filled with bottled water.

As has become a tradition at Publix, a grocery store chain prominent across Florida, customers have been buying up 'hurricane cakes'.

Shoppers appeared to be reacting to DeSantis, who urged all Floridians to "have a plan" and start making "the necessary preparations" right now.

Meanwhile, the International Space Station has published images of the storm captured by its cameras.

Speaking to the Orlando Sentinel, Orlando resident Nicholas Boyd said during the last storm, the art teacher had put off stocking up on supplies a little too long,

"Last time, I put it off a little too long, and there was none left," the 35-year-old Boyd said, adding that he wanted to be "a little more proactive" this time around. And he isn't alone: Home Depot said it had already sent some 160 truckloads of various products to stores in Florida so far.

"We have five distribution centers in the Southeast working to get more materials to stores as quickly as they can," a spokesperson said, adding that the chain is "prioritizing those in-demand items like generators, batteries, water and plywood."

Reporting from a Publix in Baldwin Park, the Orlando Sentinel noted that shelves of water were left largely empty, and employee were offering customers bottles of Fiji water instead of the large multi-gallon jugs they were looking for.

"We like to get the 5-gallon jugs because we have a dispenser at home, but they’re out of those," said 37-year-old Orlando resident Shannon Taylor, a professor at the University of Central Florida’s college of business. "So instead I went into the aisle with the bottled water, and they didn’t have any, but right when I was walking out of there, one of the Publix employees came with a cart of a few extra boxes of Fiji."

After several powerful hurricanes hammered Florida in recent years, residents have no illusions about what Dorian's impact could be. "If it makes landfall as  Category 3 or 4 hurricane, that's a big deal," said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy. "A lot of people are going to be affected. A lot of insurance claims," he told the AP.

Another resident who spoke with the AP described feeling "helpless" because of the forecast.

"I feel helpless because the whole coast is threatened," said Tiffany Miranda of Miami Springs. "What’s the use of going all the way to Georgia if it can land there?"

"You never know with these hurricanes. It could be good, it could be bad. You just have to be prepared," she said.

As of early Thursday afternoon, Dorian was situated about 220 miles northwest of San Juan, and was traveling at about 13 mph with winds of about 85 mph.

Published:8/29/2019 4:13:38 PM
[Markets] A List Of Things You Shouldn't Nuke

After Axios reported this week that President Trump wanted to explore stopping hurricanes with nuclear bombs (which Trump has vehemently denied), several pundits brought up the fact that using nukes for various non-military applications has been floated for decades

...as Garret Graff explains at Wired, nuclear explosions were considered for a variety of non-combat purposes throughout the Cold War, from melting the polar ice-caps to nuking the moon. The US Atomic Energy Commission launched Project Plowshare in 1958 to pursue peaceful applications of the technology. Some proposed uses of nuclear blasts: harbor, canal, and dam construction; fracking; railroad cuts; sewage disposal; and even generating steam for geothermal power. The Plowshare program produced some three dozen explosive experiments, but none led to feasible applications. -Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The Russians, meanwhile, tried using nukes for mining purposes - detonating hundreds of devices up until the late 1980s, including a 200-300 kiloton explosion set off in a coalmine located in Eastern Ukraine in 1979 which has left the region's water irradiated ever since.  

Some other genuinely bad ideas

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has chimed in on the nuke debate - providing a list of "a few other proposed uses for nuclear bombs that should still generally be considered bad ideas, since nuclear bombs remain a horribly destructive force that threatens human civilization."

***

Atomic cork? The Soviet Union reportedly capped natural gas wells with nuclear detonations a few times, and Barack Obama’s administration supposedly considered that course briefly as a speedy way to plug the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010.

A man, a bomb, a canal The Atomic Energy Commission thought it would be prudent to carve a backup Panama Canal using a long chain of nuclear blasts.

Nuked Alaska. In the early 1960s, Manhattan Project scientist Ed Teller worked eagerly on using a nuclear explosion to create an artificial harbor at Cape Thompson, along Alaska’s northwest coast. Radioactive experiments in anticipation of the (abandoned) plan to detonate a 200 kiloton device were only revealed in the 1990s, and cleanup of the contamination concluded just a few years ago.

Glass desert highway. Project Carryall would have been spectacular. The idea was to carve a new path for the Santa Fe Railway Company and an adjacent public roadway through the Bristol Mountains in California’s Mojave desert—by simultaneously detonating 22 nuclear devices, each with varying yields of up to 200 kilotons, along a two-mile stretch of California’s Mojave desert. If it had proceeded, who knows what interesting flora would line the Interstate Highway System today…

Shoot the Moon. In the late 1950s, the space race was just beginning, and the Soviet Union had a good head start with the launch of Sputnik. In 1958, the US Air Force decided one way to establish supremacy might be to send a nuclear device to the moon and blow it up, so everyone on Earth, especially the Russians, could see it.  Thankfully that plan was scrapped, NASA figured out how to put humans there instead, and in 1967 the Outer Space Treaty banned nuclear weapons in space.

Asteroids. Compared to all of these brilliant ideas, taking out an asteroid with nuclear bombs sounds almost reasonable, and there are active efforts to design a system to do that in case a planetary killer heads our way. But some recent studies have shown that blowing up an asteroid could be largely ineffective, like turning a giant space rock into a gravitationally glued blob of thousands of smaller space rocks. The good news is the likelihood of something hitting Earth anytime soon remains low, so we have plenty of time to figure out another way to protect ourselves—as long as we don’t blow ourselves up first.

Published:8/28/2019 9:08:43 PM
[Markets] Snyder: Experts Brace For Apocalyptic Future As Earth's Forests Burn

Authored by Michael Snyder via The End of The American Dream blog,

A world without forests would be an apocalyptic wasteland, and right now we are losing our forests at an astounding rate.  As you read this article, more than 10,000 wildfires are ripping through forested areas of South America and Africa, and global leaders seem powerless to do anything about it.  Most of the media attention has been on the horrific wildfires in the Amazon rainforest, and we are being told that the number of fires in Brazil is up 85 percent compared to last year.  But the number of fires is actually much higher in Africa.  In fact, it is being reported that there are “approximately five times as many wildfires burning in Africa than in the Amazon” at this point.  Our planet is literally being destroyed right in front of our eyes, and a lot of people don’t seem to care.

Let’s talk about what is going on in the Amazon first.  In a previous article, I discussed the fact that there have been more than 72,000 wildfires in Brazil so far this year, and at least 640 million acres have been affected by those fires.  CNN arranged for a plane to fly over some of the most heavily damaged areas, and what those on the plane witnessed was almost too horrifying for words

Flying above the Amazon’s worst afflicted state (during last week), Rondonia, is exhausting mostly because of the endless scale of the devastation. At first, smoke disguised the constant stream of torched fields, and copses; of winding roads that weaved into nothing but ash. Below, the orange specks of a tiny fire might still rage, but much of the land appeared a mausoleum of the forest that once graced it.

“This is not just a forest that is burning,” said Rosana Villar of Greenpeace, who helped CNN arrange its flight over the damaged and burning areas. “This is almost a cemetery. Because all you can see is death.”

The Amazon rainforest has been described as “the lungs of the Earth” because it produces so much of our oxygen, but many people don’t realize that the second largest tropical rainforest in the world is actually in the Congo Basin, and there are even more fires happening there right now.

In fact, according to official data released by NASA, the number of fires in central Africa is more than five times higher than the number of fires currently raging in Brazil…

Data from Nasa’s Fire Information for Resource Management System, showed at least 6,902 fires in Angola and 3,395 burning in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The same data put Brazil’s fires at 2,127.

These fires in central Africa have become so widespread that they have even gotten the attention of French President Emmanuel Macron

If you look at the data from NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management Map (FIRMS), which show a large swatch of fire across Angola, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The alarming area of these fires has left some people wondering why so much attention is being paid to the Amazon, while on the surface it appears Africa is alight with even more blazes. Even French President Emmanuel Macron, who has led the charge for international relief and solutions for the Amazon wildfire and has pledged aid from France, said on Twitter that he would consider starting a similar initiative for sub-Saharan Africa.

Fortunately, the good news is that the fires in the Congo Basin are not as out of control as the fires in the Amazon rainforest, but we are also being told that this could soon change

Organizations like Greenpeace Africa, which focuses primarily on calling attention to issues of deforestation, are monitoring the situation while acknowledging that as of right now, the fires are relatively “small-scale” compared to the flames the in the Amazon or even previous African wildfires.

But that doesn’t mean the flames are under control. “This is something we could experience again tomorrow if preventative measures are not taken today,” Irène Wabiwa Betoko, Greenpeace Africa Senior Forest Campaign Manager, told Newsweek on Tuesday.

Many of the fires in Africa are being set purposely by farmers in order to clear land, but they are still eroding critical ecosystems.  And we cannot afford to continue to treat our planet like this, because we are losing species at an astounding pace.

According to new research that was just released, “some plants have been going extinct up to 350 times faster than the historical average”

Earth is seeing an unprecedented loss of species, which some ecologists are calling a sixth mass extinction. In May, a United Nations report warned that 1 million species are threatened by extinction. More recently, 571 plant species were declared extinct.

But extinctions have occurred for as long as life has existed on Earth. The important question is, has the rate of extinction increased? Our research, published today in Current Biology, found some plants have been going extinct up to 350 times faster than the historical average – with devastating consequences for unique species.

How many species do we have to lose before we finally become concerned?

If you follow my work on a regular basis, then you already know that I am deeply concerned about our “culture of death”.  Our endless wars have killed thousands, millions of children have been killed in our “clinics”, and we are wiping out countless species of plants and animals without even thinking twice about it.

What kind of monsters have we become?  We are so cold and so heartless, and all we seem to care about is ourselves.

Meanwhile, the long-term consequences that so many have warned about are starting to arrive.  In fact, a CNN article about the Amazon wildfires that was just published boldly declared that “the apocalyptic future is here, and it is impatient”…

It is hard to see any claims of future doom as alarmist, when you see skylines rendered invisible by smoke, flames march across the plains like lava, and hear disinterested taxi drivers tell you they have never seen it so bad. The apocalyptic future is here, and it is impatient.

For once, I actually agree with CNN.

Given enough time, nothing would survive.  We are systematically destroying ourselves and everything around us, and for a while it didn’t seem like we needed to fear the long-term consequences.

But now the dark times are upon us, and the stench of our evil ways has become undeniable.

Published:8/28/2019 8:09:51 PM
[Markets] NASA Astronaut Accused Of Committing First Crime Ever From Outer Space

The wife of a NASA astronaut claimed that her identity was stolen and her bank account accessed without permission while her wife was on a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station, according to Fox News.

Astronaut Anne McClain has been involved in a bitter divorce with former Air Force intelligence officer Summer Worden since 2018, but the battle recently took an unexpected turn when Worden filed a complaint with the FTC and NASA's OIG accusing her wife of assuming her identity and gaining improper access to her financial records while she was orbiting the earth.

Worden said she found out when her wife had knowledge about her private spending while on a mission - information she would otherwise have no knowledge of.

She then contacted her bank and was informed that her sign in credentials were used by a computer registered to NASA.

“I was pretty appalled that she would go that far. I knew it was not O.K.,” Worden said.

McClain denies the allegations and says that she was acting in routine fashion by checking the family's finances to make sure they had money to pay their bills for their son. Their child has also come up during the divorce.

Worden had a son about a year before she met McClain and after they wed in 2014, she refused McClain's request to adopt the child.

McClaine then took Worden to court in 2018 to get shared parenting rights after accusing the boy's mother of having a temper and making poor financial decisions, but this lead toward Worden filing for divorce after pictures of her son and McClain were posted on Twitter.

A short time later, McClain went on mission with NASA. NASA officials stated that they were unaware of any previous crimes committed on the International Space Station.

Ain't love grand?

Published:8/26/2019 7:55:55 PM
[Markets] The Great Failure Of The Climate Models

Authored by Patrick Michaels and Caleb Stewart Rossiter via The Washington Examiner,

Computer models of the climate are at the heart of calls to ban the cheap, reliable energy that powers our thriving economy and promotes healthier, longer lives. For decades, these models have projected dramatic warming from small, fossil-fueled increases in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, with catastrophic consequences.

Yet, the real-world data aren’t cooperating. They show only slight warming, mostly at night and in winter. According to the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there has been no systematic increase in the frequency of extreme weather events, and the ongoing rise in sea level that began with the end of the ice age continues with no great increase in magnitude. The constancy of land-based records is obvious in data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Should we trust these computer models of doom? Let’s find out by comparing the actual temperatures since 1979 with what the 32 families of climate models used in the latest U.N. report on climate science predicted they would be.

Atmospheric scientist John Christy developed a global temperature record of the lower atmosphere using highly accurate satellite soundings. NASA honored him for this achievement, and he was an author for a previous edition of the U.N. report. He told a House Science Committee hearing in March 2017 that the U.N. climate models have failed badly.

Christy compared the average model projections since 1979 to the most reliable observations — those made by satellites and weather balloons over the vast tropics. The result? In the upper levels of the lower atmosphere, the models predicted seven times as much warming as has been observed. Overprediction also occurred at all other levels. Christy recently concluded that, on average, the projected heating by the models is three times what has been observed.

This is a critical error. Getting the tropical climate right is essential to understanding climate worldwide. Most of the atmospheric moisture originates in the tropical ocean, and the difference between surface and upper atmospheric temperature determines how much of the moisture rises into the atmosphere. That’s important. Most of earth’s agriculture is dependent upon the transfer of moisture from the tropics to temperate regions.

Christy is not looking at surface temperatures, as measured by thermometers at weather stations. Instead, he is looking at temperatures measured from calibrated thermistors carried by weather balloons and data from satellites. Why didn’t he simply look down here, where we all live? Because the records of the surface temperatures have been badly compromised.

Globally averaged thermometers show two periods of warming since 1900: a half-degree from natural causes in the first half of the 20th century, before there was an increase in industrial carbon dioxide that was enough to produce it, and another half-degree in the last quarter of the century.

The latest U.N. science compendium asserts that the latter half-degree is at least half manmade. But the thermometer records showed that the warming stopped from 2000 to 2014. Until they didn’t.

In two of the four global surface series, data were adjusted in two ways that wiped out the “pause” that had been observed.

The first adjustment changed how the temperature of the ocean surface is calculated, by replacing satellite data with drifting buoys and temperatures in ships’ water intake. The size of the ship determines how deep the intake tube is, and steel ships warm up tremendously under sunny, hot conditions. The buoy temperatures, which are measured by precise electronic thermistors, were adjusted upwards to match the questionable ship data. Given that the buoy network became more extensive during the pause, that’s guaranteed to put some artificial warming in the data.

The second big adjustment was over the Arctic Ocean, where there aren’t any weather stations. In this revision, temperatures were estimated from nearby land stations. This runs afoul of basic physics.

Even in warm summers, there’s plenty of ice over much of the Arctic Ocean. Now, for example, when the sea ice is nearing its annual minimum, it still extends part way down Greenland’s east coast. As long as the ice-water mix is well-stirred (like a glass of ice water), the surface temperature stays at the freezing point until all the ice melts. So, extending land readings over the Arctic Ocean adds nonexistent warming to the record.

Further, both global and United States data have been frequently adjusted. There is nothing scientifically wrong with adjusting data to correct for changes in the way temperatures are observed and for changes in the thermometers. But each serial adjustment has tended to make the early years colder, which increases the warming trend. That’s wildly improbable.

In addition, thermometers are housed in standardized instrument shelters, which are to be kept a specified shade of white. Shelters in poorer countries are not repainted as often, and darker stations absorb more of the sun’s energy. It’s no surprise that poor tropical countries show the largest warming from this effect.

All this is to say that the weather balloon and satellite temperatures used in Christy’s testimony are the best data we have, and they show that the U.N.’s climate models just aren’t ready for prime time.

Published:8/26/2019 5:27:35 PM
[Left Column] You have been Amazon.CONNED – NASA: Amazon rainforest Is Burning At ‘Below Average’ Rates – Fires mostly farms, not forests – Bolivia’s ‘socialist’ Wildfires Ignored

Amazon rainforest fires at record high levels? ‘This is a blatant lie’ – Fires ‘nowhere close to a record so far in 2019’ -"The NY Times claims 2019 fires are way up, over 2018. That is correct. What they don’t say, is that about 1/2 the years BEFORE 2019 are higher, and about 1/2 are lower. Cherry picking of the first order."

Bolivia’s Wildfires Ignored By The BBC – The Reason? ‘Evo Morales is a socialist, unlike Brazil’s Bolsonaro’ - Of course, Evo Morales is a socialist, unlike Brazil’s Bolsonaro. But I am sure that had nothing to do with the BBC’s lack of interest in this story!

"The Amazon rainforest is not the "lungs of the Earth" - It does NOT produce 20 per cent of the world’s oxygen. The Amazon rain forest is a closed system that uses all its own oxygen and carbon dioxide."
Published:8/26/2019 7:58:11 AM
[Markets] Russian Space Capsule Carrying Humanoid Robots Fails To Dock As Planned At International Space Station

A space capsule that was carrying a Russian humanoid robot failed to dock as planned with the International Space Station, according to AP

Russia's space agency said that the failure involving the planned docking on Saturday was due to faults with "the docking system" and that the Space Station and the 6 person crew were both safe. A new docking attempt will be made on Tuesday. 

We reported on Friday that Russia had launched an unmanned rocket carrying its first life-sized humanoid robot to the International Space Station. The robot, named Fedor (Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research), was supposed to spend 10 days learning to help astronauts in space.

Now, it looks as though the project could be in jeopardy. 

As we reported, the humanoid blasted off Thursday "in a Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft at 6:38 am Moscow time (0338 GMT) from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan." He was scheduled to dock at the International Space Station on Saturday and stay until September 7. No word on whether or not that schedule has changed a result of the docking failure. 

The launch was unmanned in order to help test new emergency rescue systems on board. The humanoid was strapped into a specially-made pilot seat with a small Russian flag in its hand before being launched into space. It even said: "Let's go, let's go," during the launch, an homage to the famous phrase used by first man in space Yuri Gagarin.



The human-like robot stands about 5‘11“ tall and weighs about 353 pounds. And of course, what would a scientific technological advancement be without having its own Instagram and Twitter accounts? Fedor's social media accounts update its followers with posts on when it acquires new skills, like opening a bottle of water.

"The first stage of in-flight experiments went according to the flight plan," Fedor Tweeted after reaching orbit. 

If it can dock with the International Space Station successfully, the robot will have a chance to try these skills in a low gravity environment.

Russian space agency's director for prospective programmes and science, Alexander Bloshenko, said: "That's connecting and disconnecting electric cables (and) using standard items, from a screwdriver and a spanner to a fire extinguisher." 

Fedor copies human movements, which is a key skill that allows it to help astronauts remotely while humans are strapped into an exoskeleton. These humanoids could eventually carry out dangerous operations, like spacewalks, instead of putting humans at risk.

The humanoid is also described as being potentially useful for high radiation environments and tricky rescue missions. The robot was initially developed for the emergencies ministry, but it can also be seen seen shooting at targets using two handguns in a video posted by Russian space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin.

If the capsule can dock successfully, the plan is for the humanoid robot to perform tasks supervised by a Russian cosmonaut who docked at the ISS in July. The cosmonaut will "wear an exoskeleton and augmented reality glasses in a series of experiments later this month."



Fedor's legs will be immobilized on the space station because it isn’t yet trained to grab handles and move in microgravity conditions. While showing President Putin photographs of the humanoid robot, space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin told him: "In the future we plan that this machine will also help us conquer deep space."

Russian media also speculated that these types of robots will be used in Russia’s moon program.

Although Fedor is the first Russian humanoid robot to make it to space, he is not the first robot globally to make the journey. In 2011, NASA sent up a humanoid robot developed in conjunction with General Motors that had a similar aim of working in high-risk environments. It experienced technical difficulties and was flown back to the earth in 2018.

Published:8/25/2019 9:52:01 PM
[Uncategorized] NASA investigating first allegation of criminal activity in orbit The alleged crime is related to a bitter divorce between NASA astronaut Anne McClain and her spouse Published:8/25/2019 11:26:13 AM
[US News] Dear climate alarmists: We regret to inform you that NASA declared the fires in the Amazon to be ‘close to the average in comparison to the past 15 years’

If you’ve been reading the MSM over the past few days, you’ve been treated to a barrage of coverage over the fires in the Amazon and how what’s going on is a “massive increase over last year”: The Amazon is often referred to as "the lungs of the planet." It's home to 10% of the […]

The post Dear climate alarmists: We regret to inform you that NASA declared the fires in the Amazon to be ‘close to the average in comparison to the past 15 years’ appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:8/24/2019 6:51:40 AM
[Markets] More Wildfires Are Burning In Angola & Congo Than Brazil

Thanks to a concerted effort by American social media 'influencers', everybody and their grandmother is now aware of the fact that wildfires - many of which were allegedly started illegally by farmers seeking to clear out more land for farming or pasture - are tearing through the Amazon.

What many don't realize is that the wildfires in the 'lungs of the Earth' - as French President Emmanuel Macron described the Amazon - actually aren't that uncommon. In fact, they're a natural part of the rainforest's process of self-restoration. In total, this year, fires are up by 83% compared with last year.

And while the rest of the world uses the fires as an excuse to slam Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his environmental policies (some have accused him of tacitly condoning the farmers who set the fires), Bloomberg reports that Brazil is actually third in the world in wildfires over the last 48 hours, citing data from the MODIS satellite analyzed by Weather Source.

Weather Source recorded 6,902 fires in Angola over the past 48 hours, 3,395 in the Democratic Republic of Congo and 2,127 in Brazil.

Like in the Amazon and in California, wildfires aren't all that uncommon in Central Africa.

As for the total number of active wildfires, they're also nowhere near some of the highs recorded in recent years. According to NASA, more than 67,000 fires were reported in a one-week period in June last year, most of which were started by farmers.

Over the past two days, roughly 16,500 wildfires were recorded in the top 10 countries.

Actually, as far as wildfires go, 2019 isn't out of the ordinary in any meaningful sense.

But we're sure the Instagram influencer set will soon clarify all of this in a series of sponsored posts putting the Amazon wildfires in context...right?

Published:8/23/2019 7:07:57 PM
[Markets] Russia Just Launched Its First Humanoid Robot Into Space

On Thursday, Russia launched an unmanned rocket carrying its first life-sized humanoid robot to the International Space Station, according to AFP. The robot, named Fedor (Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research), will spend 10 days learning to help astronauts in space. Its name is short for "Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research".

The humanoid blasted off "in a Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft at 6:38 am Moscow time (0338 GMT) from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan." He is scheduled to dock at the International Space Station on Saturday and stay until September 7.

The launch is unmanned in order to help test new emergency rescue systems on board. The humanoid was strapped into a specially-made pilot seat with a small Russian flag in its hand before being launched into space. It even said: "Let's go, let's go," during the launch, an homage to the famous phrase used by first man in space Yuri Gagarin.



The human-like robot stands about 5‘11“ tall and weighs about 353 pounds. And of course, what would a scientific technological advancement be without having its own Instagram and Twitter accounts? Fedor's social media accounts update its followers with posts on when it acquires new skills, like opening a bottle of water.

"The first stage of in-flight experiments went according to the flight plan," Fedor Tweeted after reaching orbit. 

At the International Space Station, the robot will have a chance to try these skills in a low gravity environment.

Russian space agency's director for prospective programmes and science, Alexander Bloshenko, said: "That's connecting and disconnecting electric cables (and) using standard items, from a screwdriver and a spanner to a fire extinguisher." 

Fedor copies human movements, which is a key skill that allows it to help astronauts remotely while humans are strapped into an exoskeleton. These humanoids could eventually carry out dangerous operations, like spacewalks, instead of putting humans at risk.

The humanoid is also described as being potentially useful for high radiation environments and tricky rescue missions. The robot was initially developed for the emergencies ministry, but it can also be seen seen shooting at targets using two handguns in a video posted by Russian space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin.

At the ISS, the robot will perform tasks supervised by a Russian cosmonaut who docked at the ISS in July. The cosmonaut will "wear an exoskeleton and augmented reality glasses in a series of experiments later this month."



Fedor's legs will be immobilized on the space station because it isn’t yet trained to grab handles and move in microgravity conditions. While showing President Putin photographs of the humanoid robot, space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin told him: "In the future we plan that this machine will also help us conquer deep space."

Russian media also speculated that these types of robots will be used in Russia’s moon program.

Although Fedor is the first Russian humanoid robot to make it to space, he is not the first robot globally to make the journey. In 2011, NASA sent up a humanoid robot developed in conjunction with General Motors that had a similar aim of working in high-risk environments. It experienced technical difficulties and was flown back to the earth in 2018.

Published:8/23/2019 1:40:21 PM
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