Kyle Mizokami Security, What happenned? The conspiracy theory is that the Scorpion was somehow caught up in some kind of Cold War skirmish, and that the Soviet flotilla had sunk the sub. An unusually high number of submarines were sunk in 1968, including the Israeli submarine Dakar, the French submarine Minerve, and the Soviet submarine K-129. According to conspiracy theorists, the Cold War had briefly turned hot under the waves, leading to the loss of several submarines. Unfortunately, there is no actual proof, nor an explanation for why a Soviet task force with only two combatants could manage to kill the relatively advanced Scorpion. In May 1968, a U.S. nuclear-powered attack submarine was sent on a secret mission to spy on the Soviet navy. Seven days later, with the families of the crew waiting dockside for the USS Scorpion to return from a three-month patrol, the U.S. Navy realized that the submarine was missing. Scorpion had been the victim of a mysterious accident, the nature of which is debated to this day. The USS Scorpion was a Skipjack-class nuclear attack submarine. It was one of the first American submarines with a teardrop-shaped hull, as opposed to the blockier hull of World War II submarines and their descendants. It was laid down in August 1958 and commissioned into service in July 1960. The Skipjacks were smaller than nuclear submarines today, with a displacement of 3,075 tons and measuring just 252-feet long by 31-feet wide. They had a crew of ninety-nine, including twelve officers and eighty-seven enlisted men. The class was the first to use the Westinghouse S5W nuclear reactor, which gave the submarine a top speed of fifteen knots surfaced and thirty-three knots submerged. The primary armament for the Skipjack class was the Mk-37 homing torpedo. The Mk-37 had an active homing sonar, a range of ten thousand yards with a speed of twenty-six knots, and a warhead packed with 330 pounds of HBX-3 explosive. Read full article
The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: First American Financial, Hanover Insurance Group, Atlas Financial and Greenlight Capital Re
The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: First American Financial, Hanover Insurance Group, Atlas Financial and Greenlight Capital Re
На Украину доставили первую партию угля из Соединенных Штатов. Об этом сообщил украинский лидер Петр Порошенко в своем микроблоге в социальной сети Twitter.
Президент Украины Петр Порошенко поприветствовал первый американский уголь, прибывший в одесский порт. В сообщении на страничке в Facebook Порошенко особо подчеркнул, что уголь поставлен в соответствии с его личными договоренностями с президентом США Дональдом Трампом.
Radian Group's (RDN) robust mortgage insurance portfolio, declining claim payments and laudable growth initiatives make it a lucrative stock.
The early 1960s were an extraordinary time, both in US history and in the lives of the Nasa engineers portrayed in Hidden Figures. But what happened next?The film Hidden Figures tells the story of three black female mathematicians – Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson – who worked at Nasa in the early 1960s, and were instrumental in sending US astronaut John Glenn, the first American in space, around the planet and back to Earth. But their inspiring stories didn’t stop when Glenn’s capsule splashed down safely off Cape Canaveral – here’s what they did in the years that followed. Continue reading...
For a non-contact sport, baseball appears to involve plenty of fights. What is it about the game that produces confrontations?In 1986 I had the privilege of sitting next to the great Scottish sportswriter Hugh McIlvanney during the NFL’s first American Bowl at Wembley Stadium. One of the topics we discussed was the fascination that British fans have with baseball brawls, highlights of which seemed to occupy an unusual amount of time on British television – more, it seemed to me, than on American TV. “It’s just refreshing to us,” McIlvanney explained, “to see most of the violence happening on the field instead of in the stands.” Continue reading...
Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com, In recent years, Seattle has developed a reputation for passing asinine laws. Recently the city tried to increase taxes on diet soda, because the drink is more popular among white people. In the past they’ve allowed 6th graders to receive IUDs without parental consent, and have enlisted garbage men to snoop through residential trash in search of compost that is illegal to throw out. Seattle was also the first American city to pass a $15 minimum wage law, which promptly hurt low wage workers. So it’s no surprise that sometimes the city passes laws that backfire in very predictable ways. In 2015 Seattle tried to place a tax on gun and ammunition purchases, in an effort to curb some of the costs the city pays for gun violence. However, these taxes didn’t have the desired effect. Seattle City Councilman Tim Burgess introduced the tax in 2015. It puts a $25 tax on every firearm sold in the city and up to 5 cents per round of ammunition. The measure easily passed and took effect January 1, 2016. Comparing the first five months of 2017 with the same period before the gun tax went into effect, reports of shots fired are up 13 percent, the number of people injured in shootings climbed 37 percent and gun deaths doubled, according to crime statistics from the Seattle Police Department. Not only that, but the tax didn’t bring in nearly as much money as city officials initially predicted. The only thing these taxes have accomplished, is the decimation of gun retailers in the city. In selling his gun tax to the public, Burgess predicted it would generate between $300,000 and $500,000 annually. The money would be used to study the root causes of gun violence in hopes of reducing the costs to taxpayers. Seattle officials refuse to say how much the tax brought in the first year, only giving the number “under $200,000.” Gun rights groups have sued to get the exact amount. But Mike Coombs, owner of Outdoor Emporium, the last large gun dealer left in Seattle, said the actual tax revenue is almost certainly just over $100,000, a figure based on information he says the city shared with his lawyers. Coombs said storewide, sales are down 20 percent while gun sales have plummeted 60 percent. “I’ve had to lay off employees because of this,” Coombs said. “It’s hurting us, it’s hurting our employees.” So in other words, the city tried to raise money to pay down the costs of gun violence, but their efforts brought in very little money, and might have raised the costs of gun violence. To be fair, there isn’t any proof that this crime wave is directly related the gun and ammunition taxes. But the best case scenario is that these taxes had zero effect on crime rates, hurt jobs, and burdened law abiding gun enthusiasts for no good reason. And this was totally predictable. There was nothing preventing gun owners in Seattle from simply driving outside of the city limits to buy cheaper guns and ammunition. So there are only two reasonable explanations for why these taxes were implemented. Either the political leaders of Seattle are painfully dumb, or they were deliberately trying to wreck the gun industry in their city.
Zacks.com featured highlights: Sandy Spring Bancorp, Gray Television, First American Financial, RTI Surgical and International Seaways
Zacks.com featured highlights: Sandy Spring Bancorp, Gray Television, First American Financial, RTI Surgical and International Seaways
Kemper Corporation (KMPR) has recently announced the offering of 4.350% $200 million senior notes. Moody's Investor Service -- an affiliate of Moody's Corporation (MCO) -- assigned Baa3 rating with stable outlook to the senior notes.
W. R. Berkley Corporation (WRB) has recently announced that it will establish two operating units, namely Berkley International Fianzas Mexico S.A. and Berkley International Seguros Mexico S.A.
Will Trump Set a Record for the History Books? Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com In its own inside-out, upside-down way, it’s almost wondrous to behold. As befits our president’s wildest dreams, it may even prove to be a record for the ages, one for the history books. He was, after all, the candidate who sensed it first. When those he was running against, like the rest of Washington’s politicians, were still insisting that the United States remained at the top of its game, not an ― but the ― “indispensable nation,” the only truly “exceptional” one on the face of the Earth, he said nothing of the sort. He campaigned on America’s decline, on this country’s increasing lack of exceptionality, its potential dispensability. He ran on the single word “again” ― as in “make America great again” ― because (the implication was) it just isn’t anymore. And he swore that he and he alone was the best shot Americans, or at least non-immigrant white Americans, had at ever seeing the best of days again. In that sense, he was our first declinist candidate for president and if that didn’t tell you something during the election season, it should have. No question about it, he hit a chord, rang a bell, because out in the heartland it was possible to sense a deepening reality that wasn’t evident in Washington. The wealthiest country on the planet, the most militarily powerful in the history of... well, anybody, anywhere, anytime (or so we were repeatedly told)... couldn’t win a war, not even with the investment of trillions of taxpayer dollars, couldn’t do anything but spread chaos by force of arms. Meanwhile, at home, despite all that wealth, despite billionaires galore, including the one running for president, despite the transnational corporate heaven inhabited by Google and Facebook and Apple and the rest of the crew, parts of this country and its infrastructure were starting to feel distinctly (to use a word from another universe) Third Worldish. He sensed that, too. He regularly said things like this: “We spent 6 trillion dollars in the Middle East, we got nothing… And we have an obsolete plane system. We have obsolete airports. We have obsolete trains. We have bad roads. Airports.” And this: “Our airports are like from a third-world country.” And on the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, he couldn’t have been more on the mark. In parts of the U.S., white working-class and middle-class Americans could sense that the future was no longer theirs, that their children would not have a shot at what they had had, that they themselves increasingly didn’t have a shot at what they had had. The American Dream seemed to be gaining an almost nightmarish sheen, given that the real value of the average wage of a worker hadn’t increased since the 1970s; that the cost of a college education had gone through the roof and the educational debt burden for children with dreams of getting ahead was now staggering; that unions were cratering; that income inequality was at a historic high; and... well, you know the story, really you do. In essence, for them, the famed American Dream seemed ever more like someone else’s trademarked property. Indispensable? Exceptional? This country? Not anymore. Not as they were experiencing it. And because of that, Donald Trump won the lottery. He answered the $64,000 question. (If you’re not of a certain age, Google it, but believe me it’s a reference in our president’s memory book.) He entered the Oval Office with almost 50% of the vote and a fervent base of support for his promised program of doing it all over again, 1950s-style. It had been one hell of a pitch from the businessman billionaire. He had promised a future of stratospheric terrificness, of greatness on a historic scale. He promised to keep the evil ones ― the rapists, job thieves, and terrorists ― away, to wall them out or toss them out or ban them from ever traveling here. He also promised to set incredible records, as only a mega-businessman like him could conceivably do, the sort of all-American records this country hadn’t seen in a long, long time. And early as it is in the Trump era, it seems as if, on one score at least, he could deliver something for the record books going back to the times when those recording the acts of rulers were still scratching them out in clay or wax. At this point, there’s at least a chance that Donald Trump might preside over the most precipitous decline of a truly dominant power in history, one only recently considered at the height of its glory. It could prove to be a fall for the ages. Admittedly, that other superpower of the Cold War era, the Soviet Union, imploded in 1991, which was about the fastest way imaginable to leave the global stage. Still, despite the “evil empire” talk of that era, the USSR was always the secondary, the weaker of the two superpowers. It was never Rome, or Spain, or Great Britain. [T]here’s at least a chance that Donald Trump might preside over the most precipitous decline of a truly dominant power in history... When it comes to the United States, we’re talking about a country that not so long ago saw itself as the only great power left on planet Earth, “the lone superpower.” It was the one still standing, triumphant, at the end of a history of great power rivalry that went back to a time when the wooden warships of various European states first broke out into a larger world and began to conquer it. It stood by itself at, as its proponents liked to claim at the time, the end of history. Applying Hard Power to a Failing World As we watch, it seems almost possible to see President Trump, in real time, tweet by tweet, speech by speech, sword dance by sword dance, intervention by intervention, act by act, in the process of dismantling the system of global power ― of “soft power,” in particular, and of alliances of every sort ― by which the U.S. made its will felt, made itself a truly global hegemon. Whether his “America first” policies are aimed at creating a future order of autocrats, or petrostates, or are nothing more than the expression of his libidinous urges and secret hatreds, he may already be succeeding in taking down that world order in record fashion. Despite the mainstream pieties of the moment about the nature of the system Donald Trump appears to be dismantling in Europe and elsewhere, it was anything but either terribly “liberal” or particularly peaceable. Wars, invasions, occupations, the undermining or overthrow of governments, brutal acts and conflicts of every sort succeeded one another in the years of American glory. Past administrations in Washington had a notorious weakness for autocrats, just as Donald Trump does today. They regularly had less than no respect for democracy if, from Iran to Guatemala to Chile, the will of the people seemed to stand in Washington’s way. (It is, as Vladimir Putin has been only too happy to point out of late, an irony of our moment that the country that has undermined or overthrown or meddled in more electoral systems than any other is in a total snit over the possibility that one of its own elections was meddled with.) To enforce their global system, Americans never shied away from torture, black sites, death squads, assassinations, and other grim practices. In those years, the U.S. planted its military on close to 1,000 overseas military bases, garrisoning the planet as no other country ever had. Nonetheless, the cancelling of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, the withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, threats against NAFTA, the undermining of NATO, the promise of protective tariffs on foreign goods (and the possible trade wars that might go with them) could go a long way toward dismantling the American global system of soft power and economic dominance as it has existed in these last decades. If such acts and others like them prove effective in the months and years to come, they will leave only one kind of power in the American global quiver: hard military power, and its handmaiden, the kind of covert power Washington, through the CIA in particular, has long specialized in. If America’s alliances crack open and its soft power becomes too angry or edgy to pass for dominant power anymore, its massive machinery of destruction will still be left, including its vast nuclear arsenal. While, in the Trump era, a drive to cut domestic spending of every sort is evident, more money is still slated to go to the military, already funded at levels not reached by combinations of other major powers. Given the last 15 years of history, it’s not hard to imagine what’s likely to result from the further elevation of military power: disaster. This is especially true because Donald Trump has appointed to key positions in his administration a crew of generals who spent the last decade and a half fighting America’s catastrophic wars across the Greater Middle East. They are not only notoriously incapable of thinking outside the box about the application of military power, but faced with the crisis of failed wars and failing states, of spreading terror movements and a growing refugee crisis across that crucial region, they can evidently only imagine one solution to just about any problem: more of the same. More troops, more mini-surges, more military trainers and advisers, more air strikes, more drone strikes... more. After a decade and a half of such thinking, we already know perfectly well where this ends ― in further failure, more chaos and suffering, but above all in an inability of the U.S. to effectively apply its hard power anywhere in any way that doesn’t make matters worse. Since, in addition, the Trump administration is filled with Iranophobes, including a president who has only recently fused himself to the Saudi royal family in an attempt to further isolate and undermine Iran, the possibility that a military-first version of American foreign policy will spread further is only growing. Such “more” thinking is typical as well of much of the rest of the cast of characters now in key positions in the Trump administration. Take the CIA, for instance. Under its new director, Mike Pompeo (distinctly a “more” kind of guy and an Iranophobe of the first order), two key positions have reportedly been filled: a new chief of counterterrorism and a new head of Iran operations (recently identified as Michael D’Andrea, an Agency hardliner with the nickname “the Dark Prince”). Here’s how Matthew Rosenberg and Adam Goldman of the New York Times recently described their similar approaches to their jobs (my emphasis added): “Mr. D’Andrea’s new role is one of a number of moves inside the spy agency that signal a more muscular approach to covert operations under the leadership of Mike Pompeo, the conservative Republican and former congressman, the officials said. The agency also recently named a new chief of counterterrorism, who has begun pushing for greater latitude to strike militants.” In other words, more! Rest assured of one thing, whatever Donald Trump accomplishes in the way of dismantling America’s version of soft power, “his” generals and intelligence operatives will handle the hard-power part of the equation just as “ably.” The First American Laster? If a Trump presidency achieves a record for the ages when it comes to the precipitous decline of the American global system, little as The Donald ever cares to share credit for anything, he will undoubtedly have to share it for such an achievement. It’s true that kings, emperors, and autocrats, the top dogs of any moment, prefer to take all the credit for the “records” set in their time. When we look back, however, it’s likely that President Trump will be seen as having given a tottering system that necessary push. It will undoubtedly be clear enough by then that the U.S., seemingly at the height of any power’s power in 1991 when the Soviet Union disappeared, began heading for the exits soon thereafter, still enwreathed in self-congratulation and triumphalism. Had this not been so, Donald Trump would never have won the 2016 election. It wasn’t he, after all, who gave the U.S. heartland an increasingly Third World feel. It wasn’t he who spent those trillions of dollars so disastrously on invasions and occupations, dead-end wars, drone strikes and special ops raids, reconstruction and deconstruction in a never-ending war on terror that today looks more like a war for the spread of terror. It wasn’t he who created the growing inequality gap in this country or produced all those billionaires amid a population that increasingly felt left in the lurch. It wasn’t he who hiked college tuitions or increased the debt levels of the young or set roads and bridges to crumbling and created the conditions for Third World-style airports. If both the American global and domestic systems hadn’t been rotting out before Donald Trump arrived on the scene, that “again” of his wouldn’t have worked. Thought of another way, when the U.S. was truly at the height of its economic clout and power, American leaders felt no need to speak incessantly of how “indispensable” or “exceptional” the country was. It seemed too self-evident to mention. Someday, some historian may use those very words in the mouths of American presidents and other politicians (and their claims, for instance, that the U.S. military was “the finest fighting force that the world has ever known”) as a set of increasingly defensive markers for measuring the decline of American power. So here’s the question: When the Trump years (months?) come to an end, will the U.S. be not the planet’s most exceptional land, but a pariah nation? Will that “again” still be the story of the year, the decade, the century? Will the last American Firster turn out to have been the first American Laster? Will it truly be one for the record books? Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com. His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, as well as John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Shares of Unum Group (UNM) gained 35.43% over last one year, significantly outperforming the Zacks categorized Accident & Health industry's growth of 18.45%.
Shares of American Financial (AFG) have outperformed the Zacks categorized Property and Casualty Insurance industry, quarter to date. The company also witnessed estimates moving north over last 60 days.
The Booker-winning author of The Sellout on difficult interviews, the joy and pain of writing, and why he shies away from big questionsPaul Beatty was born in Los Angeles in 1962. He studied psychology at Boston University and received an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College. He started his writing career as a poet and has edited Hokum, a study in African American humour. In 2016, he became the first American to win the Booker prize with his fourth novel, The Sellout, a coruscating bestseller about race relations in the US. He lives in New York and teaches creative writing at Columbia University.When you started The Sellout, to what extent did you know where you were going with it?I started with the idea of rendering segregation in a contemporary context. I was asking myself: how do you segregate something without having any power? I was intrigued to try to figure it out. I have a pretty good sense of direction, although I don’t know how I’m going to get there. But the real seed for the book was the character of Hominy [former child actor and latter-day, self-appointed slave]. I tend to like underappreciated characters: you think you see one thing, you might be seeing something else. Continue reading...
Kyle Mizokami Security, The Second World War marked the end of the Age of Battleships. Aircraft carriers, with their flexible, long range striking power made battlewagons obsolete in a matter of months. American battleships, once expected to fight a decisive battle in the Pacific that would halt the Japanese Empire, were instead relegated to providing artillery support for island-hopping campaigns. Yet after the war America’s battleships would return, again and again, to do the one thing only battleships could do: bring the biggest guns around to bear on the enemy. The U.S. Navy ended World War II with twenty-three battleships of all types. By 1947, the Navy had shrunk to peacetime levels that preserved half of the number of wartime aircraft carriers but cut the number of battleships on active duty to just four. Of the four remaining ships, all were members of the latest—and last—run of battleships, the Iowa class: Iowa, New Jersey, Missouri and Wisconsin. By the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, only one battleship, Missouri, remained on active duty. On June 25, 1950, the forces of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, backed by the Soviet Union, invaded pro-American South Korea. The invasion triggered an intervention by the United States, and USS Missouri was sent to provide support for American forces. Although Missouri did not directly participate in the amphibious landing at Inchon, it did support the landing by bombarding nearby Samcheok, South Korea, in order to convince North Korean forces the invasion would take place there instead. Afterwards, Missouri traveled to the port of Busan, where it became the flagship of Vice Adm. A. D. Struble, Commander, Seventh Fleet. Missouri continued to support the UN offensive into North Korea along the peninsula’s east coast, conducting bombardment missions in late October 1950 in the Chongjin, Tanchon and Wonsan areas. Afterwards, it used its vast number of antiaircraft guns, consisting of twenty five-inch guns, eighty forty-millimeter guns and forty-nine twenty-millimeter guns, to protect U.S. carriers from air attack. In December, after the Chinese entry into the war, Missouri provided naval gunfire cover for the U.S. Army’s X Corps, which, along with the First Marine Division, was evacuated by sea from Hunguam. The Chinese intervention, and the realization that the Korean conflict would not be a short war, prompted the Navy to reactivate the remaining three Iowa-class battleships. New Jersey was activated on November 21, 1950; Wisconsin on March 3, 1950; and Iowa itself was reactivated on August 25, 1951. For the remainder of the war, the four battleships served in the naval gunfire support role, providing direct artillery support for ground troops, bombardment of specific enemy targets, and harassment and interdiction fire against enemy supply lines. Although the range of their sixteen-inch guns limited the battleships to targets within twenty miles of the Korean coastline, operating from both coasts that still put a quarter of the country under their guns. The Korean War ended in 1953, but the U.S. Navy, fearing a return to hostilities, did not immediately send its battleships back to mothballs. Missouri was decommissioned in 1955, followed by New Jersey in 1957, and finally Ohio and Wisconsin in 1958. In 1967, faced with rising tactical aircraft losses in the Vietnam War, the United States recommissioned USS New Jersey to provide firepower that didn’t risk losing pilots. By September 30, 1968, New Jersey was back in action, shelling North Vietnamese Army forces near the North/South Vietnam Demilitarized Zone. The battleship shelled coastal targets located by spotter aircraft from the aircraft carrier USS America, and supported the First and Third Marine Divisions. New Jersey’s Vietnam service would prove short, however, as the ship was decommissioned again the following year. The 1980 election of President Ronald Reagan, who had run on the promise of a six-hundred-ship U.S. Navy, proved an opportunity to reactivate the four Iowa-class battleships yet again. All four Iowa-class battleships were upgraded with new combat systems, deleting many of the smaller five-inch guns, in order to accommodate sixteen Harpoon antiship missiles, thirty-two Tomahawk cruise missiles, and four Phalanx CIWS close-in weapon systems. Each ship retained its nine sixteen-inch guns—the new, modern Navy had no naval guns over five inches in diameter, and the big guns of the battleships would prove invaluable in the event of an amphibious landing. The first ship to be reactivated—for the third time—was New Jersey. Returned to service in December 1982, within nine months it was back in action, supporting U.S. Marines acting as peacekeepers in Beirut, Lebanon. The 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut killed 241 peacekeepers. In retaliation New Jersey conducted two naval fire missions against Druze and Syrian forces in the region believed responsible for the attack. In 1987, Missouri and Iowa participated in Operation Earnest Will, the escorting of reflagged Kuwaiti tankers to protect them from Iranian attacks. The battleships also conducted Cold War–oriented missions. In 1986, New Jersey became the first American battleship to enter the Sea of Okhotsk, considered the Soviet Union’s backyard and a bastion for the Soviet Navy’s ballistic-missile submarines. By the late 1980s the Soviet Union was visibly on the decline, and starting in 1989 the Navy made plans to retire the battleships yet again. On August 2, 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded and occupied Kuwait, and in response a massive American sea, air and land force was sent to defend Saudi Arabia. While Iowa and New Jersey were in the process of being decommissioned, Missouri and Wisconsin were deployed to the Persian Gulf. During Operation Desert Storm, the campaign to liberate Kuwait, both battleships fired Tomahawk missiles at Iraqi targets and bombarded Iraqi ground forces. As the Missouri did during the Korean War, both battlewagons conducted naval fire missions to convince Iraqi forces an amphibious assault was imminent, tying up thousands of Iraqi Army forces that were forced to defend the coastline. By 1992, all four battleships were again deactivated, and today they are museum ships in Hawaii, California, Virginia and New Jersey. Although there are frequent calls to return them to service, that seems unlikely: although their big guns are still useful, the ships require nearly two thousand crew each, making them expensive to operate. While theoretically possible to modernize and automate them, no serious study has been performed in how to adopt them to modern warfare. The four legendary ships Iowa, New Jersey, Missouri and Wisconsin will likely remain museums as long as they are afloat. Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009 he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami. Image: USS Iowa in 1984. Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Navy
Department of Transportation Washington, D.C. 11:40 A.M. EDT THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Secretary Chao. Thank you, everybody. This is very nice, by the way. Beautiful. I want to really thank you. You have been so amazing as the leader of this department, and the progress is being made so quickly. Leaders and officials gathered here from across the country have all praised the work that the Secretary is doing to create a safe, modern and reliable transportation system for the United States and for its great, great, great people. I also want to thank Secretary Zinke for the fantastic job he’s doing at the Department of the Interior to clear the way for new infrastructure and economic development. Both Secretary Chao and Zinke joined us at the White House yesterday for a meeting with state and local leaders to develop plans to replace America’s decaying infrastructure and construct new roads, rails, pipelines, tunnels, and bridges all across our nation. We are here today to focus on solving one of the biggest obstacles to creating this new and desperately needed infrastructure, and that is the painfully slow, costly, and time-consuming process of getting permits and approvals to build. And I also knew that from the private sector. It is a long, slow, unnecessarily burdensome process. My administration is committed to ending these terrible delays once and for all. The excruciating wait time for permitting has inflicted enormous financial pain to cities and states all throughout our nation and has blocked many important projects from ever getting off the ground. Many, many projects are long gone because they couldn’t get permits and there was no reason for it. We’ve already taken historic steps to speed up the approvals, including the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline -- which was very quickly approved. They were sitting there for a long time saying, well, that project is dead. Then I came into office and, all of the sudden, a miracle. And I guarantee you, the consultants went over to the heads of the company and told them what a great job they did. They asked for a lot of money, most likely. But we got it approved. And we got it approved fast. I’m also very proud to say that the Dakota Access Pipeline is now officially open for business. It was dead 120 days ago, and now it officially just opened for business. Very proud of that. Hi, Bill. We’re also excited to be joined by representatives from our labor unions, including the North America Building Trades Union, which I know well, and the Laborers International Union of North America. You will play a -- go ahead, fellas, take a little credit. Come on, fellas. You will play a central role in rebuilding America. Very important. We’re also joined, as well, by many distinguished members of Congress who share our total passion and desire to repair and restore America’s highways, railways, and waterways. In the audience is Chairman Bill Shuster of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Stand up, Bill. Thank you, Bill, great job -- who is working very closely with us, including on our proposal to dramatically reduce airport delays by reforming air traffic control. We have an obsolete system. And I have to say, before Elaine got here, they had spent close to $7 billion on the system. Boom -- a waste. All wasted. But we’re going to have a great system -- great new system. A top of the line -- it will be the best in the world. Right now, we’re at the lowest part of the pack. It will be the best in the world, for a lot less money than they’ve been wasting for years. For too long, America has poured trillions and trillions of dollars into rebuilding foreign countries while allowing our own country -- the country that we love -- and its infrastructure to fall into a state of total disrepair. We have structurally deficient bridges, clogged roads, crumbling dams and locks. Our rivers are in trouble. Our railways are aging. And chronic traffic that slows commerce and diminishes our citizens' quality of life. Other than that, we’re doing very well. Instead of rebuilding our country, Washington has spent decades building a dense thicket of rules, regulations and red tape. It took only four years to build the Golden Gate Bridge and five years to build the Hoover Dam and less than one year to build the Empire State Building. People don’t believe that. It took less than one year. But today, it can take 10 years and far more than that just to get the approvals and permits needed to build a major infrastructure project. These charts beside me are actually a simplified version of our highway permitting process. It includes 16 different approvals involving 10 different federal agencies being governed by 26 different statutes. As one example -- and this happened just 30 minutes ago -- I was sitting with a great group of people responsible for their state’s economic development and roadways. All of you are in the room now. And one gentleman from Maryland was talking about an 18-mile road. And he brought with him some of the approvals that they’ve gotten and paid for. They spent $29 million for an environmental report, weighing 70 pounds and costing $24,000 per page. And I said, do me a favor. I’m going to make a speech in a little while. Do you mind if I take that and show it? So I’m going to show it. So they spent millions and millions of dollars. When I said, how long has this short roadway been talked about, the gentleman said, well, if you say 20 years, you’re safe. I said, yeah, don’t say anymore because I have to be -- you know, I have to be exactly accurate with these people. I was off by like two months -- it’s a major front-page story. But these binders on the stage could be replaced by just a few simple pages, and it would be just as good. It was actually be much better. Because these binders also make you do unnecessary things that cost billions and billions of dollars and they actually make it worse. As another example, the 23 -- if you look at it, in Ohio, the Ohio River Bridge -- $2.3 billion. The project amassed a 150,000-page administrative record -- 150,000 pages is a five-story-tall building. Think of it. If you put the paper together, it’s a five-story building. How can a country prosper under this kind of nonsense? And I know it. I know it so well, being in the private sector. But you know, in the private sector you move, and you wheel, and you deal, and you hope, and you pray. And maybe it goes a little faster, but it’s a horrible thing in the private sector also. And we’re talking about reducing that for the private sector likewise. Why should we continue to accept what is so clearly unacceptable? Oftentimes, the consultants -- that are making a fortune because you can’t doing anything without hiring them, paying them a tremendous amount of money, having them write up this nonsense -- you can’t get approvals. And they’re in, in the case of New York, Albany -- they go to Albany, the state capital or, here, they go to Washington for federal. And they want to make it really tough because that way, you have to hire them. It's a terrible thing. It's a group of people -- probably nobody has ever heard anybody talk about it because -- I know it because I'm a business guy, I understand that. They work really hard to make it difficult. And some are believers, but most aren't. Most want to make a lot of money. So they make a very, very simple roadway or whatever you want to be building a very complicated subject, and they make it very much more expensive and they make it worse. It's not as good as it would have been. I was not elected to continue a failed system. I was elected to change it. All of us in government service were elected to solve the problems that have plagued our nation. We are here to think big, to act boldly, and to rise above the petty partisan squabbling of Washington D.C. We are here to take action. It’s time to start building in our country, with American workers and with American iron, and aluminum and steel. It’s time to put up soaring new infrastructure that inspires pride in our people and our towns. When I approved the Keystone Pipeline I said, where was the pipe made? Unfortunately, they had purchased a lot of it, but I put a little clause at the bottom -- you want to build a pipeline in this country, buy American steel and let it be fabricated here. Very simple little clause written in hand, but it does the trick. It is time, at last, to put America First. Americans deserve the best infrastructure anywhere in the world. They deserve roads and bridges that are safe to travel, and pipes that deliver clean water into their homes. Not like what happened in Flint, Michigan. They deserve lanes of commerce that get people and products where they need to go on time. Most of all, Americans deserve a system of infrastructure that is looked upon not with pity -- the world, in many cases, is so far advanced that they look at our infrastructure as being sad. We want them to look at us with envy -- a system worthy of our magnificent country. No longer can we allow these rules and regulations to tie down our economy, chain up our prosperity, and sap our great American spirit. That is why we will lift these restrictions and unleash the full potential of the United States of America. To all our state and local leaders, I appreciate you being here today. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Bill. I want you to know that help is finally -- after many, many decades -- on its way. We are giving control back to the cities and the states. You know best how to plan your communities, analyze your projects, and protect your local environment. We will get rid of the redundancy and duplication that wastes your time and your money. Our goal is to give you one point of contact to deliver one decision -- yes or no -- for the entire federal government, and to deliver that decision quickly, whether it's a road, whether it's a highway, a bridge, a dam. To do this, we are setting up a new council to help project managers navigate the bureaucratic maze. This council will also improve transparency by creating a new online dashboard allowing everyone to easily track major projects through every stage of the approval process. This council will make sure that every federal agency that is consistently delaying projects by missing deadlines will face tough, new penalties. I know it won't happen with these two. We don't have to worry about them. We will hold the bureaucracy accountable. We are also creating a new office in the Council of Environmental Quality to root out inefficiency, clarify lines of authority, and streamline federal and state and local procedures so that communities can modernize their aging infrastructure without fear of outdated federal rules getting in their way. This massive permit reform -- and that's what it is; it's a permit reform -- doesn’t sound glamorous. They won't write stories about it. They won't even talk about it. But it's so important. But it's only the first step in renewing America’s roads, rails, runways and rivers. As I discussed in Ohio recently, my new vision for American infrastructure will generate $1 trillion in infrastructure investment -- which we desperately need. We've spent, as of a few months ago, $6 trillion in the Middle East. Think of it -- $6 trillion in the Middle East. And it's worse than it was 15 years ago by a factor of 10. And yet, if you want to build a little road in one of your communities in Pennsylvania or Ohio, or in Iowa, or in North Carolina, or in Florida, you can't get the money. State and local leaders will have more power to decide which projects get built, when they start and how they are funded. And investors will have a much more predictable environment that encourages them to invest billions of dollars in capital that is currently stuck on the sidelines. Together, we will build projects to inspire our youth, employ our workers, and create true prosperity for our people. We will pour new concrete, lay new brick, and watch new sparks light our factories as we forge metal from the furnaces of our Rust Belt and our beloved heartland -- which has been forgotten. It's not forgotten anymore. We will put new American steel into the spine of our country. American workers will construct gleaming new lanes of commerce across our landscape. They will build these monuments from coast to coast, and from city to city. And with these new roads, bridges, airports and seaports, we will embark on a wonderful new journey into a bright and glorious future. We will build again. We will grow again. We will thrive again. And we will Make America Great Again. Thank you. God bless you. I appreciate it. Thank you very much. Thank you. 12:05 P.M. EDT