US Army Major (Ret.): We Are Living In The Wreckage Of The War On Terror

US Army Major (Ret.): We Are Living In The Wreckage Of The War On Terror

Authored by US Army Major (ret.) Danny Sjursen via AntiWar.com,

It has taken me years to tell these stories. The emotional and moral wounds of the Afghan War have just felt too recent, too raw. After all, I could hardly write a thing down about my Iraq War experience for nearly ten years, when, by accident, I churned out a book on the subject. Now, as the American war in Afghanistan – hopefully – winds to something approaching a close, it’s finally time to impart some tales of the madness. In this new, recurring, semi-regular series, the reader won’t find many worn out sagas of heroism, brotherhood, and love of country. Not that this author doesn’t have such stories, of course. But one can find those sorts of tales in countless books and numerous trite, platitudinal Hollywood yarns.

With that in mind, I propose to tell a number of very different sorts of stories – profiles, so to speak, in absurdity. That’s what war is, at root, an exercise in absurdity, and America’s hopeless post-9/11 wars are stranger than most. My own 18-year long quest to find some meaning in all the combat, to protect my troops from danger, push back against the madness, and dissent from within the army proved Kafkaesque in the extreme. Consider what follows just a survey of that hopeless journey…

The man was remarkable at one specific thing: pleasing his bosses and single-minded self-promotion. Sure he lacked anything resembling empathy, saw his troops as little more than tools for personal advancement, and his overall personality disturbingly matched the clinical definition of sociopathy. Details, details…

Still, you (almost) had to admire his drive, devotion, and dedication to the cause of promotion, of rising through the military ranks. Had he managed to channel that astonishing energy, obsession even, to the pursuit of some good, the world might markedly have improved. Which is, actually, a dirty little secret about the military, especially ground combat units; that it tends to attract (and mold) a disturbing number of proud owners of such personality disorders. The army then positively reinforces such toxic behavior by promoting these sorts of individuals – who excel at mind-melding (brown-nosing, that is) with superiors – at disproportionate rates. Such is life. Only there are real consequences, real soldiers, (to say nothing of local civilians) who suffer under their commanders’ tyranny.

Back in 2011-12, the man served as my commander, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army. As such, he led – and partly controlled the destinies of – some 500 odd soldiers.

Then a lowly captain, I commanded about one-fifth of those men and answered directly to the colonel. I didn’t much like the guy; hardly any of his officers did. And he didn’t trust my aspirational intellectualism, proclivity to ask “why,” or, well, me in general. Still, he mostly found this author an effective middle manager. As such, I was a means to an end for him – that being self-advancement and some positive measurable statistics for his annual officer evaluation report (OER) from his own boss. Nonetheless, it was the army and you sure don’t choose your bosses.

So it was, early in my yearlong tour in the scrublands of rural Kandahar province, that the colonel treated me to one his dog-and-pony-show visits. Only this time he had some unhappy news for me. The next day he, and the baker’s dozen tag-alongs in his ubiquitous entourage, wanted to walk the few treacherous miles to the most dangerous strongpoint in the entire sub-district. It was occupied, needlessly, by one of my platoons in perpetuity and suffered under constant siege by the local Taliban, too small to contest the area and too big to fly under the radar, this – at one point the most attacked outpost in Afghanistan – base just provided an American flag-toting target. I’d communicated as much to command early on, but to no avail. Can-do US colonels with aspirations for general officer rank hardly ever give up territory to the enemy – even if that’s the strategically sound course.

Walking to the platoon strongpoint was dicey on even the best of days. The route between our main outpost and the Alamo-like strongpoint was flooded with Taliban insurgents and provided precious little cover or concealment for out patrols. On my first jaunt to the outpost, I (foolishly, it must be said) walked my unit into an ambush and was thrown over a small rock wall by the blast of a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) with my apparent name on it. Since then, it was standard for our patrols to the strongpoint to suffer multiple ambushes during the roundtrip rotation. Sometimes our kids got wounded or killed; sometimes they were lucky. Mercifully, at least, my intelligence section – led by my friend and rebranded artillery lieutenant – did their homework and figured out that the chronically lazy local Taliban didn’t like to fight at night or wake up early, so patrols to the strongpoint that stepped off before dawn had a fighting chance of avoiding the worst of ambush alley.

I hadn’t wanted to take my colonel on a patrol to the outpost. His entourage was needlessly large and, when added to my rotational platoon, presented an unwieldy and inviting target for Taliban ambush. Still I knew better than to argue the point with my disturbingly confident and single-minded colonel. So I hedged. Yes, sir, we can take you along, with one caveat: we have to leave before dawn! I proceeded to explain why, replete with historical stats and examples, we could only (somewhat) safely avoid ambush if we did so.

That’s when things went south. The colonel insisted we leave at nine, maybe even ten, in the morning, the absolute peak window for Taliban attack. This prima donna reminded me that he couldn’t possibly leave any earlier. He had a “battle rhythm,” after all, which included working out in the gym at his large, safe, distant-from-the-roar-of-battle base each morning. How could I expect him to alter that predictable schedule over something as minor as protecting the lives and limbs of his own troopers? He had “to set an example,” he reminded me, by letting his soldiers on the base “see him in the gym” each and every morning. Back then, silly me, I was actually surprised by the colonel’s absurd refusal; so much so that I pushed back, balked, tried to rationally press my point. To no avail.

What the man said next has haunted me ever since. We would leave no earlier than nine AM, according to his preference. My emotional pleas – begging really – was not only for naught but insulted the colonel. Why? Because, as he imparted to me, for my own growth and development he thought, “Remember: lower caters to higher, Danny!” That, he reminded me, was the way of the military world, the key to success and advancement. The man even thought he was being helpful, advising me on how to achieve the success he’d achieved. My heart sank…forever, and never recovered.

The next day he was late. We didn’t step off until nearly ten AM. The ambush, a massive mix of RPG and machine gun fire, kicked off – as predicted – within sight of the main base. The rest was history, and certainly could’ve been worse. On other, less lucky, days it was. But I remember this one profound moment. When the first rocket exploded above us, both the colonel and I dove for limited cover behind a mound of rocks. I was terrified and exasperated. Just then we locked eyes and I gazed into his proverbial soul. The man was incapable of fear. He wasn’t scared, or disturbed; he didn’t care a bit about what was happening. That revelation was more terrifying than the ongoing ambush and would alter my view of the world irreparably.

Which brings us to some of the discomfiting morals – if such things exist – of this story.

American soldiers fight and die at the whims of career-obsessed officers as much they do so at the behest of king and country. Sometimes its their own leaders – as much as the ostensible “enemy” – that tries to get them killed. The plentiful sociopaths running these wars at the upper and even middle-management levels are often far less concerned with long-term, meaningful “victory” in places like Afghanistan, than in crafting – on the backs of their soldiers sacrifices – the illusion of progress, just enough measurable “success” in their one year tour to warrant a stellar evaluation and, thus, the next promotion. Not all leaders are like this. I, for one, once worked for a man for whom I – and all my peers – would run through walls for, a (then) colonel that loved his hundreds of soldiers like they were his own children. But he was the exception that proved the rule.

The madness, irrationality, and absurdity of my colonel was nothing less than a microcosm of America’s entire hopeless adventure in Afghanistan. The war was never rational, winnable, or meaningful. It was from the first, and will end as, an exercise in futility. It was, and is, one grand patrol to my own unnecessary outpost, undertaken at the wrong time and place. It was a collection of sociopaths and imbeciles – both Afghan and American – tilting at windmills and ultimately dying for nothing at all. Yet the young men in the proverbial trenches never flinched, never refused. They did their absurd duty because they were acculturated to the military system, and because they were embarrassed not to.

After all, lower caters to higher


Tyler Durden

Fri, 09/06/2019 – 23:55

Maryland Ponzi Scheme Goes Bust, People Jailed; Accomplice Cast “Hoodoo Spells” On Feds

Maryland Ponzi Scheme Goes Bust, People Jailed; Accomplice Cast “Hoodoo Spells” On Feds

Several people from Maryland have been jailed for their role in a multi-million-dollar Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors, reported The Baltimore Sun.

U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis recently sentenced Bradley Mascho, 53, of Frederick, to 2.5 years in federal prison.

U.S. Attorney Robert Hur’s office told the press that Mascho had been ordered by the court to pay $5 million in restitution.

In July, Xinis sentenced investment adviser Dawn Bennett, 56, to 20 years of federal prison for her role in the scheme.

Jurors during the two-week trial heard testimony that Bennett used investors’ money to buy astrological gems and cosmetic medical procedures. She even paid Hindu priests in India more than $800,000 to ward off federal investigators while the Ponzi scheme imploded.

According to an FBI agent’s affidavit, there was evidence found inside Bennett’s home that showed she tried to silence the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigators by casting “hoodoo spells.” She wove spells around jars of beef tongue, labeled with SEC Lawerys’ names that she stored in a freezer in her kitchen in hopes of keeping the Feds quiet.

Justice Department prosecutor Erin Pulice claims that Bennett defrauded 46 investors out $20 million in three years.

“Dawn Bennett knowingly defrauded retirees of their life’s savings – most of which she used for her own personal benefit,” U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur said in a statement.

“She’s been held accountable for her lies and theft and will now spend years in federal prison.”

Mascho pleaded guilty last summer to charges of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and making a false statement.

Dennis Boyle, Bennett’s defense attorney at trial, tried to convince the court that Mascho defrauded Bennett. Boyle said, Bennett, invested $8 million of her own money into the venture and relied on falsified accounting prepared by Mascho, her company’s chief financial officer.

The Feds started investigating Bennett’s scheme in 2015 after the SEC accused her of defrauding investors by inflating assets and falsifying returns.

Bennett promised investors a 15% return on investments in her new sportswear company but spent the money on her extravagant lifestyle.

Bennett’s life of crime began when she first appeared in Barron’s in 2009 on its list of “Top 100 Women Financial Advisors.” Her claim to fame was $1.1 billion in AUM ranked her fifth on the list. The SEC said she made another submission to Barron’s, this time for its list of “Top 100 Independent Financial Advisors.” She listed her AUM as $1.3 billion and she was ranked 26th.

However, Barron’s never verified Bennett’s AUM claims — allowed her to appear on radio talk shows promoting her fake AUM and returns.

According to the SEC, Bennett submitted another application to Barron’s, this time for its “2011 Top Advisor Rankings: Washington D.C.” She claimed her AUM had risen to $1.8 billion, which “earned” her a No. 2 ranking.

Again, there was little accountability at Barron’s who never verified her AUM.

The SEC said Bennett inflated performance returns for clients, and at one point, claimed that her firm was “top 1%” of financial advisers.

Bennett’s decade of white-collar crime has finally come to an end in the implosion of her Ponzi scheme. She won’t be released from prison until 2039.


Tyler Durden

Fri, 09/06/2019 – 23:35

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9/11 & The Road To America’s Orwellian Hell

9/11 & The Road To America’s Orwellian Hell

Authored by James Bovard via The Future of Freedom Foundation,

Next week will be the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Politicians and bureaucrats wasted no time after that carnage to unleash the Surveillance State on average Americans, treating every person like a terrorist suspect. Since the government failed to protect the public, Americans somehow forfeited their constitutional right to privacy. Despite heroic efforts by former NSA staffer Edward Snowden and a host of activists and freedom fighters, the government continues ravaging American privacy.

Two of the largest leaps towards “1984” began in 2002. Though neither the Justice Department’s Operation TIPS nor the Pentagon’s Total Information Awareness program was brought to completion, parcels and precedents from each program have profoundly influenced subsequent federal policies.

In July 2002, the Justice Department unveiled plans for Operation TIPS — the Terrorism Information and Prevention System. According to the Justice Department website, TIPS would be “a nationwide program giving millions of American truckers, letter carriers, train conductors, ship captains, utility employees, and others a formal way to report suspicious terrorist activity.” TIPSters would be people who, “in the daily course of their work, are in a unique position to serve as extra eyes and ears for law enforcement.” The feds aimed to recruit people in jobs that “make them uniquely well positioned to understand the ordinary course of business in the area they serve, and to identify things that are out of the ordinary.” Homeland Security director Tom Ridge said that observers in certain occupations “might pick up a break in the certain rhythm or pattern of a community.” The feds planned to enlist as many as 10 million people to watch other people’s “rhythms.”

The Justice Department provided no definition of “suspicious behavior” to guide vigilantes. As the public began to focus on the program’s sweep, opposition surfaced; even the U.S. Postal Service briefly balked at participating in the program. Director Ridge insisted that TIPS “is not a government intrusion.” He declared, “The last thing we want is Americans spying on Americans. That’s just not what the president is all about, and not what the TIPS program is all about.” Apparently, as long as the Bush administration did not announce plans to compel people to testify about the peccadilloes of their neighbors and customers, TIPS was a certified freedom-friendly program.

When Attorney General John Ashcroft was cross-examined by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on TIPS at a Judiciary Committee hearing on July 25, he insisted that “the TIPS program is something requested by industry to allow them to talk about anomalies that they encounter.” But, when George W. Bush first announced the program, he portrayed it as an administration initiative. Did thousands of Teamsters Union members petition 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue over “anomalies”? Senator Leahy asked whether reports to the TIPS hotline would become part of a federal database with millions of unsubstantiated allegations against American citizens. Ashcroft told Leahy, “I have recommended that there would be none, and I’ve been given assurance that the TIPS program would not maintain a database.” But Ashcroft could not reveal which federal official had given him the assurance.

The ACLU’s Laura Murphy observed, “This is a program where people’s activities, statements, posters in their windows or on their walls, nationality, and religious practices will be reported by untrained individuals without any relationship to criminal activity.” San Diego law professor Marjorie Cohn observed, “Operation TIPS … will encourage neighbors to snitch on neighbors and won’t distinguish between real and fabricated tips. Anyone with a grudge or vendetta against another can provide false information to the government, which will then enter the national database.”

On August 9, the Justice Department announced it was fine-tuning TIPS, abandoning any “plan to ask thousands of mail carriers, utility workers, and others with access to private homes to report suspected terrorist activity,” the Washington Post reported. People who had enlisted to be TIPSters received an email notice from Uncle Sam that “only those who work in the trucking, maritime, shipping, and mass transit industries will be eligible to participate in this information referral service.” But the Justice Department continued refusing to disclose to the Senate Judiciary Committee who would have access to the TIPS reports.

After the proposal created a fierce backlash across the political board, Congress passed an amendment blocking its creation. House Majority Leader Richard Armey (R-Tex.) attached an amendment to homeland security legislation that declared, “Any and all activities of the federal government to implement the proposed component program of the Citizen Corps known as Operation TIPS are hereby prohibited.” But the Bush administration and later the Obama administration pursued the same information roundup with federally funded fusion centers that encouraged people to file “suspicious activity reports” for a wide array of innocuous behavior — reports that are dumped into secret federal databases that can vex innocent citizens in perpetuity.

Operation TIPS illustrated how the momentum of intrusion spurred government to propose programs that it never would have attempted before 9/11. If Bush had proposed in August 2001 to recruit 10 million Americans to report any of their neighbors they suspected of acting unusual or being potential troublemakers, the public might have concluded the president had gone berserk.

Total Information Awareness: 300 million dossiers

The USA PATRIOT Act created a new Information Office in the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In January 2002, the White House chose retired admiral John Poindexter to head the new office. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer explained, “Admiral Poindexter is somebody who this administration thinks is an outstanding American, an outstanding citizen, who has done a very good job in what he has done for our country, serving the military.” Cynics kvetched about Poindexter’s five felony convictions for false testimony to Congress and destruction of evidence during the investigation of the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages exchange. Poindexter’s convictions were overturned by a federal appeals court, which cited the immunity Congress granted his testimony.

Poindexter committed the new Pentagon office to achieving Total Information Awareness (TIA). TIA’s mission is “to detect, classify and identify foreign terrorists — and decipher their plans — and thereby enable the U.S. to take timely action to successfully preempt and defeat terrorist acts,” according to DARPA. According to Undersecretary of Defense Pete Aldridge, TIA would seek to discover “connections between transactions — such as passports; visas; work permits; driver’s licenses; credit cards; airline tickets; rental cars; gun purchases; chemical purchases — and events — such as arrests or suspicious activities and so forth.” Aldridge agreed that every phone call a person made or received could be entered into the database. With “voice recognition” software, the actual text of the call could also go onto a permanent record.

TIA would also strive to achieve “Human Identification at a Distance” (HumanID), including “Face Recognition,” “Iris Recognition,” and “Gait Recognition.” The Pentagon issued a request for proposals to develop an “odor recognition” surveillance system that would help the feds identify people by their sweat or urine — potentially creating a wealth of new job opportunities for deviants.

TIA’s goal was to stockpile as much information as possible about everyone on Earth — thereby allowing government to protect everyone from everything. New York Times columnist William Safire captured the sweep of the new surveillance system: “Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book, and every event you attend — all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as ‘a virtual, centralized grand database.’” Columnist Ted Rall noted that the feds would even scan “veterinary records. The TIA believes that knowing if and when Fluffy got spayed — and whether your son stopped torturing Fluffy after you put him on Ritalin — will help the military stop terrorists before they strike.”

Phil Kent, president of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, an Atlanta-based public-interest law firm, warned that TIA was “the most sweeping threat to civil liberties since the Japanese-American internment.” The ACLU’s Jay Stanley labeled TIA “the mother of all privacy invasions. It would amount to a picture of your life so complete, it’s equivalent to somebody following you around all day with a video camera.” A coalition of civil-liberties groups protested to Senate leaders, “There are no systems of oversight or accountability contemplated in the TIA project. DARPA itself has resisted lawful requests for information about the Program pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.”

Bush administration officials were outraged by such criticisms. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared, “The hype and alarm approach is a disservice to the public…. I would recommend people take a nice deep breath. Nothing terrible is going to happen.” Poindexter promised that TIA would be designed so as to “preserve rights and protect people’s privacy while helping to make us all safer.” (Poindexter was not under oath at the time of his statement.) The TIA was defended on the basis that “nobody has been searched” until the feds decide to have him arrested on the basis of data the feds snared. Undersecretary Aldridge declared, “It is absurd to think that DARPA is somehow trying to become another police agency. DARPA’s purpose is to demonstrate the feasibility of this technology. If it proves useful, TIA will then be turned over to the intelligence, counterintelligence, and law-enforcement communities as a tool to help them in their battle against domestic terrorism.” In January 2003, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) learned that the FBI was working on a memorandum of understanding with the Pentagon “for possible experimentation” with TIA. Assistant Defense Secretary for Homeland Security Paul McHale confirmed, in March 2003 testimony to Congress, that the Pentagon would turn TIA over to law-enforcement agencies once the system was ready to roll.

DARPA responded to the surge of criticism by removing the Information Awareness Office logo from the website. The logo showed a giant green eye atop a pyramid, covering half the globe with a peculiar yellow haze, accompanied by the motto “Scientia est Potentia” (Knowledge is Power).

Shortly after DARPA completed a key research benchmark for TIA, Lt. Col. Doug Dyer, a DARPA program manager, publicly announced in April 2003 that Americans are obliged to sacrifice some privacy in the name of security: “When you consider the potential effect of a terrorist attack against the privacy of an entire population, there has to be some trade-off.” But nothing in the U.S. Constitution entitles the Defense Department to decide how much privacy or liberty American citizens deserve.

In September 2003, Congress passed an amendment abolishing the Pentagon’s Information Office and ending TIA funding. But by that point, DARPA had already awarded 26 contracts for dozens of private research projects to develop components for TIA. Salon.com reported, “According to people with knowledge of the program, TIA has now advanced to the point where it’s much more than a mere ‘research project.’ There is a working prototype of the system, and federal agencies outside the Defense Department have expressed interest in it.” The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol is already using facial recognition systems at 20 airports and the Transportation Security Administration is expected to quickly follow suit.

Two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo sent a secret memo to the White House declaring that the Constitution’s prohibition on unreasonable searches was null and void: “If the government’s heightened interest in self-defense justifies the use of deadly force, then it also certainly would justify warrantless searches.” That memo helped set federal policy until it was publicly revealed after Barack Obama took office in 2009. Unfortunately, that anti-Constitution, anti-privacy mindset unleashed many federal intrusions that continue to this day, from the TSA to the National Security Agency to the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.


Tyler Durden

Fri, 09/06/2019 – 23:15

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New Footage Suggests China’s Stealth Fighter Has Entered Mass Production 

New Footage Suggests China’s Stealth Fighter Has Entered Mass Production 

The Shanghai Morning Post describes how a new flight video of seven Chengdu J-20 stealth fighters could mean series production of the fifth-generation warplane has already started as tensions between the US increased in the region.

The latest video, published by the  People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAF) on Tuesday and aired on national television, showed seven J-20s participating in a training maneuver.

This was the second-largest J-20 flight disclosed on video by the PLA, the first was on PLA day on August 01, when five jets were shown.

The four-minute video, the latest video to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic and its air force. Another flight could be scheduled on October 10.

“This video is to say that a number of mass-produced J-20s have entered service and are ready to do battle,” said Song Zhongping, a military commentator based in Hong Kong.

The Post believes the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group has ramped production of the stealth fighter to at least 20 per year. Engine delays have limited J-20 production over the last several years.

Full production of the stealth jets is expected in 2020.

The show of force by China comes weeks after the US announced a new military contract with Taiwan, one where it would provide 66 General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon jets.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has been creating a fifth-generation stealth fighter circle around China. Deploying  F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II stealth jets across the Asia-Pacific region.

By the mid-2020s, the Pentagon is expected to have at least 200 F-35s surrounding China, according to General Charles Brown, commander of the US Pacific Air Forces.

Brown said earlier this year that the F-35 is deterrence against a rising China across the Asia-Pacific region.

The Pentagon is even selling the F-35s to allies. Japan has bought 100 of the stealth jets, 105 F-35As, and 42 short take-off and vertical landing variant F-35Bs.

By early summer, Japan has received 13 of the F-35As.

Closer to China, the  South Korean Air Force ordered 40 F-35As. Eight have been delivered so far this year, with at least ten more arriving by 4Q19.

Military analysts have said the US surrounding China with stealth jets is called the “F-35 friends circle.”

And with China expected to ramp up production of its J-20, it will soon be prepared for a potential clash with hostile stealth fighters from the West. Conflict is coming with the US and China, the pawns are being moved in place.


Tyler Durden

Fri, 09/06/2019 – 22:55

Craft Beer Boom: The Numbers Behind The Industry’s Explosive Growth

Craft Beer Boom: The Numbers Behind The Industry’s Explosive Growth

Authored by Katie Jones via VisualCapitalist.com,

All movements start with rebellion, and the craft beer revolution is no different.

Born from the frustration of mass-produced beer made from cheap ingredients, entrepreneurs went head-to-head with global brewery giants to showcase local and independent craftsmanship.

Suddenly, drinking beer became less about the alcoholic content and more about the quality and experience. Craft beer allowed for constantly changing flavors, recipes, and stories. With sales accounting for 24% of U.S. beer market worth over $114 billion, the global craft beer movement has been historic.

Which States Bring Home the Beer?

Today’s map from C+R research demonstrates the growth of the craft beer market, by ranking the U.S. states based on craft breweries per capita.

The data for this visualization comes from The Brewers Association—an American trade group of over 7,200 craft brewers, suppliers, and distributors, as well as the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

According to the data, Vermont has emerged as the craft beer capital of the U.S. with 11.5 breweries per 100,000 people. That’s equal to 151 pints of beer produced per drinking-age adult. Following closely behind are Montana and Maine, each with 9.6 breweries per capita.

You’ll notice that in Southern states such as AlabamaGeorgia, and Mississippi, that there are only 0-0.9 breweries per capita. This is actually because of tighter liquor laws—for example, only 10 years ago, it was illegal to sell specialty beer in South Carolina that contained more alcohol content than a typical Budweiser.

Becoming a Brewery Nation

In 2008, there were only 1,574 breweries across the United States.

However, as you can see in the below data from the Brewers Association, the total amount of craft breweries, microbreweries, and brewpubs has climbed to 7,346 in just a decade.

Of the three categories of craft beer, microbreweries have contributed the most to recent production growth. Last year, they accounted for 80% of this growth, up from 60% in 2017.

The term microbrewery refers to the maximum amount of beer the brewery can produce. For microbreweries, that number is 15,000 barrels (460,000 U.S. gallons) of beer per year. They also have to sell 25% or more of their beer on site, which is why we are witnessing a surge in breweries that double up as a restaurant or bar.

Comparing this data to figures on larger breweries available from the Breweries Association, it is clear that it is the larger, more established breweries that are feeling the heat. While their growth slows, more small breweries open, and sales are further cannibalized.

The Economic Impact of the Craft Beer Market

When it comes to pure dollars, C+R Research notes that Colorado comes in at #1 with an economic impact of $764 per person. Vermont is at the #2 spot with an economic impact of $667 per person, despite having a higher concentration of breweries per capita.

How do the rest of the states compare?

The global craft beer market is expected to reach $502.9 billion by 2025—while the craft brewing industry contributed $76.2 billion to the U.S. economy in 2017, including more than 500,000 jobs.

Will Craft Remain a Growth Category?

While many argue that craft beer is approaching its peak, the data is promising. Experimentation with new processes and ingredients will continue to drive the market forward.

Craft brewers all over the world are tapping into the novelty factor by exploring weird and wonderful innovations, like deer antler-infused beer and take-home brewing kits.

While the overall beer market lagged in sales by 0.8% last year, the craft brew category grew by 3.9% using the same measure. Further, craft still only makes up 13.2% in total beer volume in the U.S., meaning there is still plenty of market share to gain.


Tyler Durden

Fri, 09/06/2019 – 22:35

Trump Admin Mulls Plan To Drastically Cut Refugees Allowed To Enter Country

Trump Admin Mulls Plan To Drastically Cut Refugees Allowed To Enter Country

The Trump administration is mulling several plans to cut back on the number of refugees allowed in the United States, according to the New York Times, citing anonymous sources. 

One plan would cut refugee admissions by half or more, down to 10,000 – 15,000 people – and would only allow people from “a few handpicked countries or groups with special status, such as Iraqis and Afghans who work alongside American troops, diplomats and intelligence operatives abroad.” 

Via migrationpolicy.org

Another idea is to cancel the program altogether unless the president chooses to admit refugees in an emergency. 

Both options would all but end the United States’ status as one of the leading places accepting refugees from around the world.

The issue is expected to come to a head on Tuesday, when the White House plans to convene a high-level meeting in the Situation Room to discuss at what number Mr. Trump should set the annual, presidentially determined ceiling on refugee admissions for the coming year. –New York Times

“At a time when the number of refugees is at the highest level in recorded history, the United States has abandoned world leadership in resettling vulnerable people in need of protection,” said Refugees International president, Eric Schwartz. “The result is a world that is less compassionate and less able to deal with future humanitarian challenges.”

The Times singles out top Trump adviser Stephen Miller for using his “considerable influence in the West Wing to reduce the refugee ceiling to its lowest levels in history,” by capping the program at 30,000 admits per year; a 70% reduction from the day Trump took office

For two years, Stephen Miller, Mr. Trump’s top immigration advisor, has used his influence to reduce the refugee ceiling to its lowest levels in history. Photo: Erin Schaff/The New York Times

A key admin official who will largely influence the decision is newly minted Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, according to the report. 

The senior military leadership at the Defense Department has been urgently pressing Mr. Esper to follow his predecessor’s example and be an advocate for the refugee program, according to people familiar with the conversation in the Pentagon.

But current and former senior military officials said the defense secretary had not disclosed to them whether he would fight for higher refugee admissions at the White House meeting next week. One former general described Mr. Esper as in a “foxhole defilade” position, a military term for the infantry’s effort to remain shielded or concealed from enemy fire. –New York Times

On Wednesday, a group of distinguished retired military officials wrote a letter to Trump, imploring him to reconsider the cuts – calling the refugee program a “critical lifeline” to those helping US troops, diplomats and intelligence officials conducting overseas operations. 

“We urge you to protect this vital program and ensure that the refugee admissions goal is robust, in line with decades-long precedent, and commensurate with today’s urgent global needs,” reads the letter whose signatories include Admiral William H. McRaven, the former commander of United States Special Operations; General Martin E. Dempsey, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Lt. General Mark P. Hertling, the former commanding general of Army forces in Europe.


Tyler Durden

Fri, 09/06/2019 – 22:15

Is China The New ‘Evil Empire’?

Is China The New ‘Evil Empire’?

Authored by Onar Am via LibertyNation.com,

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was the enemy of the West, and President Ronald Reagan had the moral courage to identify it as the “evil empire,” which arguably sped up the fall of Soviet-led communism by a decade or more. However, communist China did not fall. Slowly and anonymously in the shadow of Russia and Iran, the Chinese have been building their might. Could China be emerging as the new evil empire today?

Background

In 1972, President Richard Nixon softened relations with China. A few years later, after the death of Chairman Mao Zedong, the new Chairman Deng Xiaoping introduced economic reforms, creating economic free zones modeled on Hong Kong. The liberalization was so dramatic that hardliners accused Deng of being a traitor and embracing capitalism. Deng famously answered his critics that his policies were “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

Then followed decades of a surprisingly free economy. After Mao, few bothered talking about Marxism and communism. Everyone was talking about freedom and making money.

However, something started to change from around 1989. The student rebellion in Tiananmen Square reminded the authorities that freedom was dangerous to their authoritarian one-party rule. They were further alarmed by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the subsequent implosion of the Russian economy. By the time Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997, the initial infatuation with freedom was replaced with a renewed belief in communism, Chinese greatness, and imperial ambition.

A few years later, the Chinese people started noticing new posters of Chairman Mao. A new generation of Chinese students was taught that he was a flawless great leader. The mass death of the Great Leap Forward and the destruction of Chinese culture during the Cultural Revolution had been airbrushed out of the curriculum. This “reeducation” includes the persecution of Christians and a rewriting of the Bible to reflect the values of communism.

In 2018, the Chinese communist party celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx, and the new “paramount leader” of China, General Secretary Xi Jinping, said that “Writing Marxism onto the flag of the Chinese Communist Party was totally correct … Unceasingly promoting the sinification and modernization of Marxism is totally correct.”

The Xi Era

When Xi came to power in 2012, he centralized control in a single person in a way not seen since the days of Mao. In a speech in 2013, Xi made clear that China had moved its goalposts and that its imperial ambitions had been revived. He announced the policy of the “Chinese Dream” and reaffirmed Deng’s “Socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

Xi’s plan involved the creation of a $900 billion Belt and Road Initiative dubbed the New Silk Road by some. The project consists of constructing roads and infrastructure to connect China with Europe, Central-Asia, and South-Asia to foster trade and make the communist nation the center of a vast new economic empire.

Xi Jinping

Shortly after Xi came to power, China started building artificial islands in the South China Sea and, in violation of international treaties, extended the Chinese maritime territory claim to the shores of Thailand and the Philippines.

The recent social unrest in Hong Kong reflects serious concern over the aggressive infiltration of the Communist Party and the gradual devouring of the remnants of freedoms established under British rule. Chinese communists have bought newspapers in Taiwan and other countries in the region to influence the news.

Australia recently announced the formation of a task force to crack down on meddling in its universities by “foreign governments.” Education Minister Dan Tehan said that “our government is taking action to provide clarity at the intersection of national security, research, collaboration, and a university’s autonomy.”

China was not mentioned by name, but the preamble to this drastic measure was Chinese pro-communist rallies at Australian universities.

Spying, Theft, And Trade Barriers

China has been a kleptocracy for a long time. Much of China’s technology is based on rampant industrial espionage in the West. According to Stephen Bannon in an interview with celebrity investor Kyle Bass, China’s version of the CIA has been sponsoring top Chinese students to get into the best American universities and research institutions that are working on military technology.

While the West has opened its markets to China, the communist regime has demanded industry and technology transfer in return for market access. Many companies are only allowed to sell goods to China if the products are partially built there. Google had to help China build a secret surveillance and thought control system to be able to operate in the country.

America’s Response

While the theft, espionage, infiltration, protectionism, and increased authoritarianism has been well-known by the American government for several decades, it has been excused and ignored. No American president since Nixon has done anything to curb the rise of the new totalitarian empire in the East – until President Donald Trump.

For twenty years, Trump has been warning about the danger of China. Even now, critics only see the tariffs as a form of outdated protectionism by an economically illiterate buffoon. However, while America and the West only saw the rise of China as something unequivocally positive and a path into the civilized world, Trump was among the earliest to see the signs of something sinister brewing. The tariffs are part of a retaliatory economic warfare.

Rather than learn the principles of liberty from the West, China has used the extended hand and goodwill of America to steal, cheat, and infiltrate. Its increased wealth has reawakened the “Chinese Dream” of “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” We now know what they mean by that: a return to Chinese imperialism.

Reagan called out the Soviet Union as the evil empire. Is it time for Trump to do the same with China?


Tyler Durden

Fri, 09/06/2019 – 21:55

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Tempers Flare Over Fukushima Plan To Dump Radioactive Water In Ocean

Tempers Flare Over Fukushima Plan To Dump Radioactive Water In Ocean

South Korea has fired off a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to express concerns over a Japanese plan to release radioactive water into the ocean which has been collected since the 2011 nuclear disaster, according to NHK

An official of South Korea’s science ministry said on Thursday said that the letter expresses the country’s serious concerns about the environment impact of such a release. The official also said South Korea asked the international nuclear watchdog to play a more active role on the issue. –NHK

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which operates the plant, is storing over 1.12 million tons of radioactive water on site, which is slated to reach capacity in 2022. The contaminated water has been treated using a system known as ALPS (multi-nuclide removal system), which removes 62 types of radioactive elements – not including tritium, before being stored stored in massive tanks on the Fukushima Daiichi grounds. 

The plan to release diluted wastewater into the ocean is one of several measures being discussed by an expert panel as possible ways to deal with the problem. Adding storage tanks is another option – which would kick the can down the road. 

the Japanese government is pushing to have the water released into the sea. But based on an investigation of 890,000 tons of Fukushima Daiichi water that had undergone ALPS purification (950,000 tons total), TEPCO announced in September 2018 that 750,000 tons – more than 80% – still included radioactive material above emission standards. Fukushima-area fishers continue to oppose the release of Fukushima Daiichi water in the ocean on that basis, and the Japanese government has yet to proceed with the discharge. –Hankyoreh.kr

On Wednesday, the Japanese government announced that it had invited foreign diplomats to its Foreign Ministry in Tokyo for a briefing on the situation – the 103rd such meeting, yet the first one ever announced. 

“Since the start [of the briefings], we have continued to provide information to diplomats in Tokyo about conditions at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant since the East Japan earthquake,” said the ministry.


Tyler Durden

Fri, 09/06/2019 – 21:35

Leprosy Could Be The Next Public Health Crisis To Hit Los Angeles

Leprosy Could Be The Next Public Health Crisis To Hit Los Angeles

Authored by Jennie Taer via SaraACarter.com,

Leprosy cases are emerging in Los Angeles County, according to a recent study revealed in a Reuters Health report and its co-author Dr. Maria Teresa Ochoa of Keck Medical Center of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles told Reuters Health that she’s urging the public to “fight the stigma.”

The disease commonly referred to as “Hansen’s Disease” is curable when treated expeditiously, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Scientists believe it is spread through particles in the air, but also say contact must be “prolonged” and “close.”

An infected person can suffer mild to severe damage to the body’s “skin, nerves, and mucous membranes.”

Moreover, patients can lose feeling in parts of their bodies and suffer permanent blindness.

Dr. Victor S. Santos, who works with a team of researchers at the Federal University of Alagoas, in Arapiraca, Brazil, told Reuters,

“As leprosy has been a neglected disease with a high potential to cause deformities, especially when it is not treated properly, I would like to reinforce the need for early identification of cases in the community with the adoption of active case search and screening of household and social contacts from all index cases,” he said.

“Such measures could minimize leprosy-related problems, as physicians and other health professionals could better care for these patients.”

Dr. Ochoa and her team studied 187 infected patients between 1973 and 2018. The report found, according to Reuters Health, that 16 percent of patients suffered “loss of protective sensation” while 26.2 percent of patients had a “visible deformity.” The problem is that cases go undiagnosed and patients aren’t symptomatic for an average of five years, according to the World Health Organization.

According to the CDC, patients with early diagnoses adhering to a combination of 2 or 3 antibiotics make full recoveries.


Tyler Durden

Fri, 09/06/2019 – 21:15