This summer UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon established the Independent Expert Advisory Group (IAEG) to provide concrete recommendations on how to achieve a Data Revolution for sustainable development. The IEAG report – due in early November – will be a crucial opportunity to explain how better quality and more timely data can transform development. The group is also looking for innovative approaches to data collection, publication, and use.
To solicit input from all communities of practice – particularly academia – the IAEG is hosting a public consultation at undatarevolution.org to solicit input into its work until October 15, 2015. In spite of the short notice, we strongly encourage you to submit your ideas and suggestions for the data revolution. Please share this message widely and provide your comments on the IEAG website.
“While taxpayer dollars flowed into your coffers, no one considered it a problem that the country lacked 17 overlapping outfits bent on preventing approximately 400,000 deaths by firearms in the same years; nor 17 interlocked agencies dedicated to safety on our roads, where more than 450,000 Americans have died since 9/11”
What are the odds? You put about $68 billion annually into a maze of 17 major intelligence outfits. You build them glorious headquarters. You create a global surveillance state for the ages. You listen in on your citizenry and gather their communications in staggering quantities. Your employees even morph into avatars and enter video-game landscapes, lest any Americans betray a penchant for evil deeds while in entertainment mode. You collect information on visits to porn sites just in case, one day, blackmail might be useful. You pass around naked photos of them just for… well, the salacious hell of it. Your employees even use aspects of the system you’ve created to stalk former lovers and, within your arcane world, that act of “spycraft” gains its own name: LOVEINT.
It never occurred to me, when I lost the first bureaucratic battle on Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) in 1992, that my innate sense of integrity [do the right thing] would lead me to resign from the Marine Corps civil service in 1993 as a very young GM-14, and spend not five, not ten, but twenty years wandering in the wilderness helping over 66 governments and over 7,500 mid-career officers get a grip on sources and methods the traditional secret services refused to consider and the traditional consumers of intelligence did not know how to do. Of all my student bodies, the USA was the worst, remaining ignorant at the leadership level, helpless at the follower level–butts in seats, no brain required. Hence, as we approach a historic turning point, the possibility that we might have a Secretary of State and a Secretary of Defense that can actually get a grip on reality together, I thought it might be useful to offer up three things I have learned during my 20-year walk-about:
There is a lot of waste in the defense budget, much of it inserted by Congress for pork reasons, but DoD is also used to mask many other non-Defense programs, not just intelligence but in energy, health, foreign aid, etcetera. Breaking the bargain with military retirees on health care is both a major betrayal, and a window into an alternative, a national health care service that does not pay full price for pharmaceutical that rarely work.
WASHINGTON–One war is done, another is winding down and the calls to cut the deficit are deafening. The military, a beneficiary of robust budgets for more than a decade, is coming to grips with a new reality — fewer dollars.
The election accelerated an already shifting political dynamic that next year will pair a second-term Democratic president searching for spending cuts with tea partyers and conservatives intent on preserving lower tax rates above all else, even if it means once unheard of reductions in defense.
President Barack Obama and Congress have just a few weeks to figure out how to avert the automatic cuts to defense and domestic programs totaling $110 billion next year. Those reductions are part of the so-called fiscal cliff of expiring Bush-era tax cuts and the across-the-board cuts that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned would be devastating to the military.
June 18, 2012 – Do you know how your tax dollars are spent?
US radio host Dennis Bernstein and investigative reporter Dave Lindorff illustrate just how much US tax money goes towards the country’s war chest.
“People have to realise that 53 cents of every dollar that they are paying into taxes is going to the military to an astonishing figure there is an enormous, enormous amount of money being blown on war an killing and destruction.”
Ever since the beginning of the financial crisis and quantitative easing, the question has been before us: How can the Federal Reserve maintain zero interest rates for banks and negative real interest rates for savers and bond holders when the US government is adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt every year via its budget deficits? Not long ago the Fed announced that it was going to continue this policy for another 2 or 3 years. Indeed, the Fed is locked into the policy. Without the artificially low interest rates, the debt service on the national debt would be so large that it would raise questions about the US Treasury’s credit rating and the viability of the dollar, and the trillions of dollars in Interest Rate Swaps and other derivatives would come unglued.
In other words, financial deregulation leading to Wall Street’s gambles, the US government’s decision to bail out the banks and to keep them afloat, and the Federal Reserve’s zero interest rate policy have put the economic future of the US and its currency in an untenable and dangerous position. It will not be possible to continue to flood the bond markets with $1.5 trillion in new issues each year when the interest rate on the bonds is less than the rate of inflation. Everyone who purchases a Treasury bond is purchasing a depreciating asset. Moreover, the capital risk of investing in Treasuries is very high. The low interest rate means that the price paid for the bond is very high. A rise in interest rates, which must come sooner or later, will collapse the price of the bonds and inflict capital losses on bond holders, both domestic and foreign.
The question is: when is sooner or later? The purpose of this article is to examine that question.