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 on: May 24, 2016, 09:47:25 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog*Editors%20Picks

The United States is scrambling to catch up with a big, global push to build icebreakers as the melting Arctic opens the once-frozen north to oil drilling, new shipping and cruise routes, and intensified military competition.

Countries from Russia to China and Chile are all muscling ahead to build a new generation of icebreaking ships. The United States, despite a belated polar effort last year by the Obama administration, has struggled to upgrade its tiny and aging icebreaker fleet, potentially leaving it at a disadvantage in the race for influence in the Arctic.

But on Tuesday, a Senate Appropriations subcommittee earmarked $1 billion for a new polar icebreaker — a potentially big step forward toward building at least the first new ship of its kind in more than a generation.

If passed by Congress, that would fund nearly the entire cost of the ship’s construction, avoiding contentious and yearly fights over money. But it also essentially puts any larger American ambitions in the Arctic on ice for at least a decade while the ship is being built.

The U.S. Coast Guard, which operates the icebreaking fleet, has said it needs six big ships to handle all its missions in the Arctic and in Antarctica. Building fewer than that will make it harder for Washington to police those open waters, escort commercial and cruise shipping, and carry out search-and-rescue missions, among other things.

“It’s unfortunate that our nation, an Arctic nation, has fallen so far behind with this capability, particularly as the Arctic enters an extremely dynamic geopolitical and environmental period of rapid change,” retired Adm. David Titley, who set up the U.S. Navy’s task force on climate change, told Foreign Policy.

    “Icebreaking capacity is a very good hedging strategy, and our capacity is very limited.”

“Icebreaking capacity is a very good hedging strategy, and our capacity is very limited.”

The newly proposed funding would ease budgetary pressure on the Coast Guard, which has a total ship acquisition budget of less than the cost of a single new icebreaker. And it’s a throwback to the way the United States funded and built its last Arctic workhorse, the Healy, beginning in 1990.

To judge by bustling shipyards, plenty of other countries are preparing for increasing activity in the Arctic and the Antarctic, even countries far from the poles. Russia, which already has the world’s biggest icebreaking fleet, is building a dozen more ships, including several nuclear-powered icebreakers. China just launched its second icebreaker and has a third under construction. Finland is currently constructing the world’s first icebreaker to be powered by liquefied natural gas, or LNG. A Korean shipyard is building a fleet of ice-capable LNG shipping tankers in anticipation of the coming Arctic gas boom. Norway and the Netherlands are building ice-capable cruise ships. And several countries — France, Britain, Chile, and Australia — are all building new ships to operate in Antarctica, and Argentina just refurbished its single icebreaker to restore its polar capability.

Most of the activity is in response to a record-setting melt of Arctic sea ice. This past winter, the Arctic again set a record for the lowest amount of winter ice coverage and is on track this year to shatter the summertime minimum as well. The Arctic is warming so fast that the U.S. Navy this spring had to call off its annual Arctic exercise a week early, after the ice began to crack.

That is literally opening what amounts to a new ocean at the top of the world. Countries and companies, especially in China, are eyeing new shipping routes. Beijing said recently it intends to promote more shipping through the Northwest Passage, via Canada, while Chinese shipping giant COSCO plans greater use of the Northern Sea Route, along the top of Siberia. The opening Arctic is creating a new market for tourists, as well: This summer, for the first time, a cruise ship will sail from Anchorage, Alaska, to New York City, through the Northwest Passage.

And while oil companies have bailed out of the U.S. Arctic for now, exploration and drilling for oil and gas continues apace in Europe and especially in Russian waters.

“We’re in a situation where the global icebreaking fleet is not meeting demand,” said Tero Vauraste, the president and CEO of Arctia, a Finnish shipbuilder specializing in icebreakers.

But the United States is lagging behind. It currently has a single heavy icebreaker nearing the end of its operational life and a medium icebreaker used in the Arctic. For years, despite pleas by the Coast Guard, Congress was loath to fund new ships, which can cost upwards of $1 billion each.

Now, the rapidly melting Arctic and new geostrategic battleground are seemingly changing that calculus. U.S. President Barack Obama visited Alaska last year and called for rebuilding the icebreaker fleet. Earlier this year, the Coast Guard asked for $150 million in funding to design two new planned icebreakers and hopes to award a production contract by 2019. If the defense appropriations bill passes Congress, the construction of at least one new ship is guaranteed.

A few years ago, the changing conditions in the Arctic “weren’t seen as the wolf closest to the sled,” said Sherri Goodman, a former deputy undersecretary of defense and a fellow at the Wilson Center. “It’s still not the closest, but it’s getting closer.”

But building two new ships would simply replace the two currently in service and would still leave the Coast Guard short of the six-strong fleet it says it needs. What’s more, it will take at least a decade to build the first of the new heavy icebreakers, even if funding is guaranteed. That leaves a dicey window in the meantime.

    “We’re very mindful that, as vulnerable as we are today, our vulnerability will only increase over time,” until the new ships are built, Adm. Paul Zukunft, the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, told FP.

“We’re very mindful that, as vulnerable as we are today, our vulnerability will only increase over time,” until the new ships are built, Adm. Paul Zukunft, the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, told FP.

Some lawmakers have railed for years against Washington’s bureaucratic infighting and go-slow approach to Arctic issues.

“I get very impatient because I don’t see us prioritizing icebreakers as a national asset,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who formed an Arctic caucus last year to push for greater U.S. involvement in the region. And that, she said, has implications as the Arctic becomes a focus of economic and geopolitical competition.

“People can quibble about what we have versus what Russia has versus what China is building. All I can tell you is we are not in the game right now,” Murkowski said. She and colleagues from across the aisle pushed through the defense appropriations bill this week in a bid to resolve the long-standing fight over who will pay for the new ship.

Other lawmakers are also pushing the administration to make new icebreakers a broader priority. Alaska’s other senator, Dan Sullivan, a Republican, compared Russia’s huge fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers that open new routes through the Arctic with the aging U.S. ships stretched among several missions.

    “Right now, the Russians have superhighways, and we have dirt roads with potholes,” Sullivan said.

“Right now, the Russians have superhighways, and we have dirt roads with potholes,” Sullivan said.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who serves on the House Armed Services Committee and its panel that oversees the Coast Guard, is usually an outspoken critic of the White House. But he has become an unlikely booster of the Obama administration’s Arctic push, worried that the cash-strapped Coast Guard can’t purchase the pricey new ships on its own. Hunter this week had called on the U.S. Navy to help pay for the new ships.

“It’s more of a Navy issue,” he said, which requires “getting the Navy to realize they’re the ones who are going to benefit from this; the Coast Guard can’t do it.”

Despite the possible funding through the defense budget, the U.S. Navy insists icebreaking is not its mission: It can go through the Arctic anytime it wants with nuclear submarines.

“U.S. Navy submarines regularly use the Arctic as a transit route between the Atlantic and the Pacific, greatly improving mission agility and flexibility. Only submarines can do this,” Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins said.

But Titley, the former Navy admiral, says the United States needs the ability to operate on the ocean’s surface as well. “Virtual presence is physical absence,” he said. “It’s all well and good to say you have interests in the Arctic, but if you can only be on the surface where there is little or no danger of ice, then your presence is very restricted.”

Canada may be in an even tougher bind: It has greater Arctic responsibilities than the United States but faces many of the same constraints on new icebreaker construction. As part of its joint Navy-Coast Guard $37 billion shipbuilding plan, Canada currently aims to construct a new polar ship over the next decade at a cost of about $1.2 billion. But it won’t start construction until the Vancouver shipyard where it will be built has finished new support vessels for the Royal Canadian Navy. In the meantime, a Canadian Coast Guard spokesperson told FP, Ottawa will refurbish its sole existing icebreaker to keep it in service for another decade.

Other countries have been floating possible solutions to help both the United States and Canada bridge their icebreaker gaps. Finland, for example, built more than half of the worldwide icebreaking fleet and has plenty of shipyards with specialized design and construction experience. Finnish government representatives reportedly met with U.S. and Canadian government officials this year to propose collaborating on the design and construction of new icebreakers, and they bent the ear of U.S. lawmakers at a recent summit between the United States and Nordic leaders on the same issue.

Vauraste says Arctia can build a heavy icebreaker in Finnish yards for about 250 million euros, far cheaper than the proposed price tag for new U.S. and Canadian ships. And Arctia could also help the United States design its new ship, he said, given U.S. shipyards haven’t built an icebreaker in 20 years or a heavy icebreaker in 40. “There is increasing interest” in Washington, he said. “It’s definitely not a non-starter.”

Murkowski said international collaboration, whether for co-design, building, or leasing existing ships, “needs to be on the table.”

Zukunft of the Coast Guard said he has held lots of conversations about collaboration with other nations, including Finland, but that it’s “too early” to make any commitments. The Coast Guard does have partnerships with Finland and Canada to share best practices on icebreaking acquisition.

But there are legal and political restrictions in both the United States and Canada that prohibit relying on foreign shipbuilders. Under U.S. law, no major component of a Coast Guard ship can be built in a foreign shipyard. And U.S. shipbuilders are gearing up for billions of dollars in local contracts, especially Huntington Ingalls Industries, which manufactures the Coast Guard’s National Security Cutters and built the last U.S. icebreaker in 1997. And there are no heavy icebreakers currently available to lease, even if that were an option, said Zukunft.

That means, for the foreseeable future, both the United States and Canada could well find themselves short-handed when it comes to being able to operate in the Arctic, just as the region is opening up to new economic and even military activities. Finding a way to patrol U.S. waters, respond to oil spills and stranded cruise ships, or police a flurry of shipping activity through the Bering Strait will likely strain America’s tiny and aging icebreaking fleet, especially if there’s no will or ability to lease ships from other countries to help fill the gap.

“That’s the near-term risk that needs to be addressed, and that’s why it’s urgent to develop that capability now,” Goodman said. “Because those risks are only going to increase as there is more activity in the Arctic.”

FP reporter Molly O’Toole contributed to this article.

 on: May 24, 2016, 09:27:54 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by objectivist1
Business Debt Delinquencies Are Now Higher Than When Lehman Brothers Collapsed In 2008

Monday, 23 May 2016    Michael Snyder

This article was written by Michael Snyder and originally published at The Economic Collapse

You are about to see more very clear evidence that a new economic crisis has already begun.  During economic recoveries, business debt delinquencies generally fall, and during times of economic recession business debt delinquencies generally rise.  In fact, you will see below that business debt delinquencies shot up dramatically just prior to the last two recessions, and the exact same thing is happening again right now.  In 2008, business debt delinquencies increased at a very frightening pace just before Lehman Brothers collapsed, and this was a very clear sign that big trouble was ahead.  Unfortunately for us, in 2016 business debt delinquencies have already shot up above the level they were sitting at just before the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and every time debt delinquencies have ever gotten this high the U.S. economy has always fallen into recession.

In article after article, I have shown that key indicators for the U.S. economy started falling in either late 2014 or at some point during 2015.  Well, business debt delinquencies are another example of this phenomenon.  According to Wolf Richter, business debt delinquencies have shot up an astounding 137 percent since the fourth quarter of 2014…

Delinquencies of commercial and industrial loans at all banks, after hitting a low point in Q4 2014 of $11.7 billion, have begun to balloon (they’re delinquent when they’re 30 days or more past due). Initially, this was due to the oil & gas fiasco, but increasingly it’s due to trouble in many other sectors, including retail.

Between Q4 2014 and Q1 2016, delinquencies spiked 137% to $27.8 billion.

And we never see this kind of rise unless the U.S. economy is heading into a recession.  Here is more from Wolf Richter…

Note how, in this chart by the Board of Governors of the Fed, delinquencies of C&I loans start rising before recessions (shaded areas). I added the red marks to point out where we stand in relationship to the Lehman moment:

Business loan delinquencies are a leading indicator of big economic trouble.

To me, this couldn’t be any clearer.

Just like the U.S. government and just like U.S. consumers, U.S. businesses are absolutely drowning in debt.

In fact, a report that was just released found that debt at U.S. companies has been growing at a pace that is 50 times faster than the rate that cash has been growing.

Just imagine what it would mean for your family if your debt was growing 50 times faster than your bank account.  Needless to say, this is an extremely troubling development…

Well, American companies may just have a mountain’s worth of problems, according to a new report from Andrew Chang and David Tesher of S&P Global Ratings.

“At the same time, the imbalance between cash and debt outstanding we reported on last year has gotten even worse: Debt outstanding increased 50x that of cash in 2015,” wrote Chang and Tesher.

“Total debt rose by roughly $850 billion to $6.6 trillion last year, dwarfing the 1% cash growth ($17 billion).”

And the really bad news is that banks all across the country are starting to tighten credit to businesses.

In other words, they are beginning to become much more reluctant to loan money to businesses because debts are going bad at such an alarming rate.

When the flow of credit to the business community starts to slow down, it is inevitable that the overall economy slows down as well.  It is just basic economics.  So the deterioration of the U.S. economy that we have witnessed so far is just the beginning of a process that is going to take quite a while to play out.

And let us not forget that most of the rest of the world is already is much worse shape than we are.  Most global financial markets are officially in bear market territory right now, and some nations are already experiencing full-blown economic depression.

Now that the early chapters of the “next crisis” are here, most American families find themselves ill-equipped to deal with another major downturn.  In fact, USA Today is reporting that approximately two-thirds of the country is currently living paycheck to paycheck…

Two-thirds of Americans would have difficulty coming up with the money to cover a $1,000 emergency, according to an exclusive poll, a signal that despite years after the Great Recession, Americans’ finances remain precarious as ever.

These difficulties span all incomes, according to the poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Three-quarters of people in households making less than $50,000 a year and two-thirds of those making between $50,000 and $100,000 would have difficulty coming up with $1,000 to cover an unexpected bill.

What are these people going to do when they lose their jobs or their businesses go under?

If you have any doubt that the U.S. economy is already in recession mode, just look at this chart over and over.

For months, I have been warning that the same patterns that immediately preceded previous recessions were happening once again, and this rise in debt delinquencies is another striking example of this phenomenon.

This stuff isn’t complicated.  Anyone that is willing to be honest with themselves should be able to see it.  As a society, we have been making very, very bad decisions for a very, very long period of time, and what we are watching unfold right now are the inevitable consequences of those decisions.

 on: May 24, 2016, 06:35:11 PM 
Started by Bob Burgee - Last post by Bob Burgee
Greetings DBMA Association Members!

40 minutes of new material from the 2015 DBMA East Coast Camp!

Module 6: Kali Tudo - Section 2 (40 min)

Learn The Rules So You Can Break Them Properly
False Lead Jab Review
Zirconia Triplets
The Dracula
Uppercut & Hook
Focus Mitts

Punong Guro Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny & Guro Ryan "Guard Dog" Gruhn continue to break down the false lead, add combinations, and refine the movements of Kali Tudo.

All the best.


 on: May 24, 2016, 03:20:07 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by G M

Oops! NPR admits it did cancel interview with Iran-deal critic

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National Public Radio admitted Monday that it did cancel an interview with Rep. Mike Pompeo, a congressional critic of the Iran deal, despite having told the Associated Press last week that it had no record of contact with him.

Last week the AP revealed that National Public Radio had taken $100,000 in 2015 from the Ploughshares Fund, a group that White House adviser Ben Rhodes said was helpful in setting up a media “echo chamber” to pass the deal. NPR flatly denied that the donation had any impact on their coverage of the deal. From the AP report:

“It’s a valued partnership, without any conditions from Ploughshares on our specific reporting, beyond the broad issues of national and nuclear security, nuclear policy, and nonproliferation,” NPR said in an emailed statement. “As with all support received, we have a rigorous editorial firewall process in place to ensure our coverage is independent and is not influenced by funders or special interests.”
There was just one problem with this blanket denial from NPR. According to Rep. Mike Pompeo, a critic of the deal, NPR had canceled an interview with him even as it gave air time to Rep. Adam Schiff, a supporter of the deal. Once again, NPR denied it. A spokesperson told the AP it had no record of Pompeo’s requests to be featured on the air discussing the deal. That was it, cut and dry.

Only it wasn’t true. The Washington Free Beacon reports NPR has now reversed itself:

An NPR producer contacted Pompeo’s office on Aug. 4, 2015, to schedule an interview with the lawmaker, according to an email viewed by the Free Beacon.

“We’d like to do this but not live tomorrow morning. Can we schedule a tape time for tomorrow morning or Thursday to air in Friday’s show? This will give us more time to figure out better audio options as well,” NPR producer Kenya Young wrote to Pompeo’s office, according to a copy of the email.

“Let’s aim for Thursday morning at 10am Eastern,” Young wrote later in the day. “I’ll assign a producer in the morning who will get in touch with you, confirm a time, and set up an engineer to tape sync the interview in Kansas. Thanks for reaching out. You’ll hear from someone on my team in the morning.”

NPR decided to nix the interview the following morning…
An NPR spokesman told the Free Beacon, “Rep. Pompeo was booked to discuss the Iran deal in August 2015, but the interview did not take place.” NPR also issued another anodyne statement about editorial firewalls that supposedly prevent their stories from being influenced by big donations to cover specific issues. But when asked by the Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo to explain the initial statement to the Associated Press, denying it had been in contact with Rep. Pompeo, NPR stopped responding. That doesn’t look suspicious at all.

Let’s just state the obvious here. NPR took money ($700,000 over a period of several years) from a group that the White House has identified as part of the Iran deal echo-chamber. NPR says that money didn’t influence coverage, and yet one of the outspoken critics of the deal had his interview canceled and, a month later, had his 2nd approach to the network rebuffed. It has all the appearance of bias. For that matter, NPR’s decision to host Ploughshares Fund president Joseph Cirincione on two occasions to offer positive (and partisan) political spin for the deal looks a lot like pay-for-play.

 on: May 24, 2016, 02:39:50 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
I just took a stab at editing in paragraph breaks.

Also, I think that it might better fit in the Foreign Policy thread, nothing to do with the Clintons' corruption in it.

 on: May 24, 2016, 02:36:03 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog

 on: May 24, 2016, 02:33:28 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by G M
This very angry woman gets big space time on Huffington Post.  I wonder if she is "for her":

I would like to add that this is strong evidence this person is the kind of person who is really behind the scenes driving this stuff.  It is the angry feminists who are pushing for the eradication of the concept of "gender".  It ain't about transexuals or BR rules etc.

This is radical feminism trying to transform everything about gender identity.

This is about Marxism trying to destroy a culture so it can be remade.

 on: May 24, 2016, 02:31:29 PM 
Started by Crafty Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog

 on: May 24, 2016, 01:36:16 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by ccp
This very angry woman gets big space time on Huffington Post.  I wonder if she is "for her":

I would like to add that this is strong evidence this person is the kind of person who is really behind the scenes driving this stuff.  It is the angry feminists who are pushing for the eradication of the concept of "gender".  It ain't about transexuals or BR rules etc.

This is radical feminism trying to transform everything about gender identity.

 on: May 24, 2016, 09:34:34 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by DougMacG
Are they done propping up Obama and setting up the crash correction to come right as he leaves?

It was a different situation but I wonder what we can learn from Paul Volcker.  He was appointed in August 1979.  By July 1981 he had the Federal Funds rate above 20% using tight money to squeeze out inflation.  Meanwhile the Reagan tax cuts were delayed and not fully in place until Jan 1, 1983.  In the time in between, unemployment spiked and people faced a hard recession.  In hindsight it seems quite obvious that those different but opposing forces on the economy should have happened simultaneously.

What is wrong with this economy, in addition to absent interest rates, is excessively burdensome (1) regulations (2) taxation, and (3) all the disincentives to produce in the social spending network that weaves its way through the lives of more than half the people.  For example, make more money and you lose your healthcare subsidy, Fafsa eligibility, SSI etc.

Zero interest rates serve to partially hide negative effects of these other problems in the short term while causing other long term problems like zero savings and zero new real investment in the economy, ensuring roughly zero growth in GDP and wages.

Monetary policy has a different decision process and team than we have for these other failed policies, yet it would be beneficial to the economy if the timing was coordinated with correction of these other known problems.

But of course we aren't even admitting what's wrong much less motivated to fix them.  The Fed rate increase is a head fake.  If they go through with it at all, it will be a 1/4 point increase in addition to the 1/4 point increase we had last December and the last before that was 10 years ago.  At this rate, savers would see 5% interest rates by just past their life expectancy.  The schedule for fixing the other problems at this point is never.

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