Here is your Week 21 Wrap-Up
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General: This week, someone actually tried to argue that the government was the smallest it had been since 2003 – with the exception of our military which was evidently bigger. Well, here are some interesting facts to consider and this will be great for anyone trying to argue something similar. To begin with, the U.S. government is the largest employer in the country with approximately 2.7 million civilian employees. For reference, Wal-Mart has 2.2 million employees worldwide. Of course, U.S. Department of Defense makes that look small with its 3.2 million employees, according to data compiled by the World Economic Forum. Now with that being said, there is a part of the government that is being reduced. It’s actually the military. The Army’s latest headcount shows that the army is at its lowest level since before World War II. The Navy is on the same track according to reports.
We could also discuss government practices. A provision that was snuck into the still-secret text of the Senate’s annual intelligence authorization would give the FBI the ability to demand individuals’ email data and possibly web-surfing history from their service providers without a warrant and in complete secrecy. Big brother is getting bigger all the time. I am having a hard time to believing that our government is “small”.
Speaking of WWII… our debt is actually headed to 103% of GDP; a level only seen during WWII. The government needs money, so they pass laws that come with a hefty fine if you break them. Well, there have been 20,642 new regulations since Obama took office in 2009 and these are worth billions. Of course, they are still running a deficit. Good thing they have the IRS. Not only does the IRS target conservatives and small businesses for their extra cash, but the IRS also erroneously paid out an estimated $15.6 billion in Earned Income Tax Credit payments in fiscal year 2015, according to a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report. You have to love government efficiencies. Would this be a bad time to bring up Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald who said his agency shouldn’t use wait times as a measure of success because Disney doesn’t either? Hmm…
Economics: Gross domestic product rose at a 0.8 percent annual rate as opposed to the 0.5 percent pace reported last month, the Commerce Department said. What they didn’t say is that it was expected to be at LEAST 0.9% and that there was virtually no improvement in the all-important personal consumption.
And since we are on the topic of personal consumption, we are seeing more retail closures. The pace is picking up in my opinion. Sports Authority is the latest to call it quits on 463 stores. They are going to be out of the game altogether. Other retailers are starting feel the heat and closing down “select stores”. Walmart, American Eagle, Walgreens, Kmart, Chico’s FAS, Sears, Finish Line, Macy’s, Children’s Place, Kohl’s, The Gap, Aeropostale, JCPenney, Wolverine World Wide, Men’s Warehouse, Jos. A. Bank, Office Depot and more are also in the process of closing down quite a few stores themselves. But things are turning around… so they say.
On a serious note: keep your eye on news related to Deutsche Bank. That one has been hitting the model something fierce lately. I don’t have clarity on this one yet, but it looks like they could be in some serious trouble.
Just kind of a “heads-up”: billionaire investor Jim Rogers recently did an interview with Bloomberg. He said that there is a 100% chance that the U.S. economy will enter a recession in the next 12 months.
Global: Changing the way wars are fought (sign of the struggle). Experts now predict the world’s global powers will soon be taking their battles into space. Writing for global intelligence agency Statfor, senior military analyst Omar Lamrani warned while the race for dominance in space began some time ago the race toward its weaponisation is accelerating faster than ever before. So then should anyone be at all concerned about China and how they are constructing its first space tracking, telemetry, and command facility outside of its borders in Patagonia, Argentina; one that critics are already expressing concerns that it will be doing more than just looking at the stars? And should we pay attention to the words of Air Force Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, who leads Air Combat Command, who said “Our concern is a resurgent Russia and a very, very aggressive China”?
I’ll tell you one part that caught my eye this week was how Russia’s Vice-minister for Foreign Affairs, Sergéi Ryabkov, said that his government believed that Washington was intensifying its attempts to directly “interfere” in Latin American affairs to the detriment of the region, and then Russia’s Foreign Ministry turned around and said “We are confident that a political solution to Venezuelan problems is to be found by the Venezuelan people who have elected its legitimate authorities… Destructive interference from outside is inadmissible.”
Speaking of Russia: Russia tested its new anti-satellite missile and the Krasnodar academy (Russia’s Air Force academy) said that next year the number of graduates will double. Meanwhile, former U.S. Forces Korea commander Retired four-star Gen. Walter Sharp, said Instability within North Korea will lead to its collapse “sooner than many of us think”. That would mean a conflict with China would be sooner rather than later as well.
Health: Did you hear about the recent report from Canada that showed that Doctors prescribe antidepressants for a wide range of medical problems other than depression, apparently fueling the boom in sales of these medications? It’s a practice not too dissimilar from our own here in the states. Look at your labels and make sure that the drugs you take are for the problem you have. Be informed. Remember friends: prescription drugs can be extremely dangerous. As tallied by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States, ahead of motor vehicle deaths and firearms (deaths),” according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Need a reason to pick up my new book “Natural Health Made Easy”? Researchers have found a person in the United States carrying bacteria resistant to colistin; our “antibiotics of last resort. U.S. public health official say this could mean “the end of the road” for antibiotics. This was published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology.
Side Note: So I haven’t received my copy of “The Confessions of Congressman X” yet… but the reviews are looking pretty rough so far. I’ll let you know when I get my copy. I’ll write a detailed review.
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