Who would take a Bentley sports car and modify it into a sports tank?
These guys would.
I don't know if I want to drive it, but it's certainly interesting to watch!
The owner of the life-size replica of Noah’s Ark in Northern Kentucky has sued its insurers for refusing to cover, of all things … rain damage.
Ark Encounter, which unveiled the 510-foot-long model in 2016, says that heavy rains in 2017 and 2018 caused a landslide on its access road, and its five insurance carriers refused to cover nearly $1 million in damages.
It was night when the trucks came to an abrupt stop, jolting Azeteng from a half-sleep. Voices called out from the dark, ordering the migrants to get out, and they were surrounded by men in military fatigues carrying AK-47s. They had hit the first Tuareg rebel checkpoint.
The rebels fired shots into the air and ordered the migrants to line up to pay. Those who didn’t have enough money were told to form a separate line and had their pockets searched and possessions taken. Then they were beaten. Azeteng was hit hard in the side of the head, knocking his glasses off his face. A migrant in front of him was hit with a metal pole and bled from the mouth. A Gambian man, whom Azeteng had befriended on the journey, held up his Koran and begged in vain for them to stop.
Azeteng put his glasses back on and, overcoming a swell of fear, pressed the tiny button under the arm. The grainy footage captured the migrants shuffling past a militant holding out a large plastic bowl, depositing cash. When the bowl was full, another militant tipped it into a larger bowl. Those who had paid were ordered to sit on the sand and wait. The wind whipped up and the cold started to bite.
It was then that Azeteng saw the two Nigerian women again, the women who had sat up front with the driver. Women from Nigeria, more than any other African nation, have fallen prey to the sex-trafficking trade to Europe. A well-established criminal network entraps them with promises of well-paid jobs as hairdressers or houseworkers or similar, then sells them into sex work. “As soon as they leave their family and community network they become extremely vulnerable,” Michele Bombassei, a UN expert on West African migration, told me. “And this is the moment the sexual exploitation begins.”
Azeteng had spoken to the Nigerian women briefly, back in Bamako. They were confident and outgoing. They had joked and laughed. Now their heads were bowed, and Azeteng watched as they walked silently into the desert escorted by seven armed men from the checkpoint. The seven men gang-raped the two women on the desert floor, close enough for the migrants to see.
When it was finished, the women were brought back and put in the front of the truck and the migrants were put in the back of the truck, and a heavy silence settled on them. The jubilation of earlier that day had given way to fear.
. . .
Azeteng helped Sekou to a hospital. Four days later, Sekou was dead. Some smugglers collected the body, and Azeteng followed them to a migrants’ graveyard near the edge of town. He watched as they took Sekou’s body from the bed of a pick-up. The dead man had been wrapped in a white sheet, one arm bound straight along his side and the other folded across his chest. They lowered the body into a shallow grave and covered it with sand and gravel and bricks. Adjacent to the migrants’ graveyard was a graveyard for Algerian citizens, with orderly plots and headstones. The migrants were buried haphazardly and close together, with nothing to mark their passing but the disturbance of the earth. Azeteng began to count, first one by one, then in rough batches, and by the time he gave up he’d counted 700 graves.
. . .
Ibrahim started out from Ghana with almost no money, and he was subjected to levels of hardship and brutality that Azeteng had paid to avoid. Locked into debt bondage, he worked for five months in Mali and Algeria with little or no pay. “It is so hard, so hard,” he said. “Work, work, work, work, work.” He pinched a fold of his skin. “My body was not good, it changed because of no food.” Ibrahim walked for five days in the desert after he and others were dumped by the smugglers, he said. He saw hands and feet sticking out of the sand, and helped bury a man who sat down on a dune one day, closed his eyes, and died.
Our lives are defined by numbers. Our deaths are defined by them too.
Somewhere out of sight, in the world or in our bodies, a clock ticks insistently away. Most of the time we are fortunate enough to be deaf to the relentless clockwork march of time.
Until we begin to hear. And are unable to stop.
There are many clocks in the hospital room where she lies dying beneath a plastic blanket inflated and deflated by one of a dozen machines in the room.
There is an old fashioned clock ticking inaudibly on the wall, there are digital clocks and timers embedded in everything. And there is the insistent count of heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen. The numbers keep going down.
The beeping is constant. One alarm, for the heart rate or the oxygen or the IV follows another. The alarms are a count. The numbers they measure are ultimately the only numbers that matter. They are the numbers of life.
I had often heard the term deathwatch, but standing on the plastic pine floor while the nurses come and go, I understand it. I am waiting for a death that I have been told is inevitable. I am waiting and dreading it all at once.
The Rabbi has come and gone. He has said his prayers and words of comfort. And I have said them with him. All the prayers in the end form one greater prayer. A fervent hope that our lives are defined by more than these numbers.
U.S. growth appears to be based “exclusively” on government, corporate and mortgage debt and the economy would have contracted if the United States had not added trillions in debt, Jeffrey Gundlach, chief executive of DoubleLine Capital, said in an investor webcast on Tuesday.
“Nominal GDP growth over the past five years would have been negative if U.S. public debt had not increased,” said Gundlach. “One thing everybody seems to miss when they look at these GDP numbers ... they seem to not understand that the growth in the GDP it looks pretty good on the screen is really based exclusively on debt - government debt, also corporate debt and even now some growth in mortgage debt.”
If the U.S. Treasury had avoided increasing its debt then nominal GDP would have been negative in three of the last five years...
. . .
Against this debt backdrop and financial markets “addicted to Federal Reserve stimulus,” these are “very, very dangerous times” for the next U.S. recession, Gundlach, who oversees more than $130 billion in assets at DoubleLine Capital, said.
I am indebted to Manoj Samanta for the insightful concept the commoditization of fraud. The first step in the commoditization of fraud is to normalize fraud as Business as Usual (BAU) to the point that it's no longer viewed as "wrong," destructive or an aberration of evil-doers but as an accepted way to maximize gain and offload risk onto others.
The last step in the process is to institutionalize fraud within central banking and government policies.
How is selling shares in a money-losing corporation at outlandish valuations not the commoditization of fraud?
. . .
How is private equity loading companies up with debt as a means of paying outlandish dividends to themselves not commoditized fraud? How is paying dividends with debt rather than earnings not fraud? The net result of this fraud is the debt-burdened company eventually defaults on its debt, defrauding the investors who were suckered into the scam.
. . .
How is understating inflation so Social Security retirees get near-zero cost of living adjustments as real-world inflation pushes 7% not normalized, institutionalized fraud? We all understand the motivation for this institutionalized fraud: to limit the increasing cost of Social Security and mask the erosion of household income's purchasing power.
... the speed with which technology is transforming the economy is increasing: there is no golden era to return to. The economy they long for (strong unions, full employment, rising wages, declining inequality, political bipartisanship, financial stability and security, etc.) has already slid into the dustbin of history.
They are equally blind to the reality that the central state they revere as the "solution" to financialization is itself the source of wealth/power asymmetry and the enforcer of Big Tech and Big Finance domination.
Proponents of technology implicitly assume that financialization's skims and scams have no impact on technology's golden promise of glorious advances which both enrich the few who own the technology and free the many to enjoy robots doing their work and endless entertainment (for a modest monthly fee, of course).
They are largely blind to the inconvenient reality that replacing tens of millions of workers with robots and software means there is no longer a mass-consumption economy for all the technological wonders, as the supposed solution--Universal Basic Income (UBI)--can't provide either paid work or enough income for the millions who will be receiving UBI subsistence to borrow or spend enough to keep the consumer economy afloat.
Financialization's solution--creating more credit / debt-- simply insures that the UBI recipients will be devoting much of their subsistence income to debt service rather than tech toys.
While AI (artificial intelligence) garners the headlines, the next wave of disruptive technologies extend far beyond AI: as the chart of technologies rapidly being adopted shows, this wave includes new materials and processes as well as the "usual suspects" of machine learning, natural language processing, data mining and so on.
While many voices seek to assure us these technologies won't displace human workers, the reality is cutting labor inputs is the core driver. What few pundits seem to understand (perhaps because they've never experienced a truly competitive market?) is that the rush to incorporate these technologies into existing enterprises is deflationary not just to prices but to profits.
Reducing labor inputs and improving productivity of capital and the remaining labor force is not going to generate profits if competitors can access the same tools and processes. The race isn't to maximize profits, it's to survive the inevitable deflationary spiral in prices as competitors are forced to pass along cost savings to customers to retain market share.
. . .
Everyone counting on trillions in tech profits is overlooking the inconvenient reality of the S-Curve for cheap credit, cheap energy and cheap labor--the three drivers of global expansion. Once credit dries up or becomes more expensive, once cheap energy is only a memory (or future fantasy) and once employment sags under the pressure to reduce labor inputs, the ranks of those with the earnings or credit to buy, buy, buy will be thinned.
Stagnant wages can only be supplemented with borrowed money until the costs of servicing the debt (interest) eats the borrower's budget. At that point, lenders will have to face the unpalatable truth that any additional loan will end in default, a process that will also collapse the entire unsustainable mountain of debt the household is struggling to service.
I was an EMT and a trauma tech working on a truck and in a trauma room for about 10 years and I was an army combat medic for eight years ... I have treated an inordinant amount of gun shot and blast injuries in places where surgical treatment was often well over an hour away ... I kept mission logs and patient logs ... I have recorded 371 gun shot wounds and significant blast injuries.
. . .
In just about every country I have been in, our host nation counterparts — army and police — used the 9X19 NATO round ... I’ve seen a lot of pistol shootings, much more than US police would ever see, and much more than experienced by most medics deploying solely with US personnel. And yet, I have zero, not one single experience, where a single gunshot wound from a 9X19 NATO round killed someone prior to them being able to return fire or flee. This includes people shot in the chest, back, back of the head (one hit behind the left ear) the neck and the face. None.
Unfortunately, the same goes for the 5.56 NATO round. I have yet to witness a single shot quick kill with this round ... in every experience, at ranges from zero (negligent discharges) to 35 yards (my closest, and worst-placed, shot on a person) to 400 yards (our average initial engagement distance in Afghanistan) individuals shot with a single 5.56 NATO round had time to fire, maneuver, or both. Did I see single shots that killed eventually? Yes. Does that matter in combat? Not one damn bit if you are the one they are still shooting at.
. . .
Take from that what you will. For me, what I learned is, when it comes to combat, shoot the heaviest rifle round I can, shoot at what I can hit, and then shoot it again if I can.
. . .
As an aside, Chris Kyle (FWFS, brother) was a friend of mine, and while not so patiently listening to one of my Crown-induced rants on the 5.56 NATO, he suggested that it was not caliber I hated, but the bullet. He told me to load up the case as fast as I could, push a 64 grain or heavier soft point round and see what happens. So I had Underground Tactical built me an AR in 5.56 which I swore I would never own, and built rounds ranging from 64 to 75 grains with it. I’ve taken 11 deer with them, and the wound tracks are nothing like I saw with the NATO round. I’ve never had to look for an animal, and a little Underground 5.5lb AR in 5.56 is my go-to hill country deer gun now, which is just crazy.
“We must consider the security and safety implications for our citizens and communities who will receive individuals like John Walker Lindh, who continue to openly call for extremist violence,” Sens. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., wrote in a letter to the Federal Bureau of Prisons late last week that was obtained by the Washington Post.
In the letter, the lawmakers reportedly sought details on how the agency is working to prevent prisoners such as Lindh from committing additional crimes after their release. They also asked which other “terrorist offenders” are next in line to be freed and how the Federal Bureau of Prisons determines whether or not someone is an “ongoing public threat.”
Sometimes we wish we could go to court and say bluntly, “If you let this man out, he’s going to hurt or kill others. He’s a permanent danger to society. He needs to stay behind bars.” Very sadly, we don’t have the legal right to do that, and courts in most states don’t have the authority to order permanent incarceration for such offenders. Every year we’re legally obliged to discharge inmates ... on completion of their sentences, in the sure and certain knowledge that someone out there is going to suffer, perhaps even die, because we’re doing so. It tears your guts out sometimes.
The initial charges leveled against the then 20-year-old Lindh in 2002 included one for murder conspiracy due to the role he played in the deadly prison rebellion.
However, nine of the ten counts in an indictment were then dropped and Lindh ended up pleading guilty to disobeying an executive order outlawing support to the Taliban and for possessing a weapon in Afghanistan.
In 2017, the National Counterterrorism Center, according to documents obtained by Foreign Policy, underscored that Lindh continued to "advocate for global jihad and write and translate violent extremist texts."
Furthermore, he is alleged to have told a TV producer last March that he would “continue to spread violent extremism Islam upon his release.”
Terri Furrh was a little confused at first when she was asked to get out of alphabetical order at the Moulton High School graduation Friday night and go to the back of the line.
But as soon as principal Jamie Dornak spoke about the stretch of highway between Moulton and Shiner, a line of law enforcement officers and first responders walked up to the left side of the stage in the gymnasium in place of their fallen brother, the late Sgt. David Furrh, she understood.
. . .
Furrh was killed in 2000 while serving a search warrant. Terri Furrh was only about 3 months old at the time.
. . .
Each officer, deputy and first responder hugged Terri Furrh after she received her diploma. Representatives from law enforcement agencies all over Texas, including Moulton, Gonzales County, Lavaca County, Shiner, Smiley, Nixon, Orchard and Victoria traveled to support the 18-year-old Moulton grad.
The officers stayed until the end of the ceremony and lined up in two lines for the graduates to pass through.
“It was really touching,” Terri Furrh said.
She plans to attend Texas State University and major in criminal justice.