Is It Time To Give Up On Britain’s National Health Service?

Authored by Antony Sammeroff via The Mises Institute,

Our National Health Service just turned 70! According to a recent article in The Guardian by Polly Toynbee , The NHS is our religion in the UK and that’s why the conservative government can’t destroy it. Of course, the Conservative government have never actually tried to destroy the NHS. They haven’t even reduced the amount spent on the NHS. They haven’t even halted increases in healthcare spending. The only thing they have done is reduced the rate at which spending is going to continue to increase.

Before the National Health Service was created in Great Britain our nation was a world-leader with an unrivalled record in making major medical breakthroughs. People came from all over the globe to study medicine, and to be treated in the UK. Dr. John Snow proved that the source of cholera epidemics was the water supply in London. Edward Jenner pioneered a vaccine for smallpox in rural England, and Sir Almroth Wright one for typhoid. Sir Humphrey Davy, also a Briton, first suggested the use of nitrous oxide as an anaesthetic in 1800. Sir Joseph Lister pioneered the use of antiseptics in operations in 1865 using impure carbolic acid, saving countless people dying from infections after surgery. Alexander Flemming, the Scottish physician discovered Penicillin in one of the charitable hospitals in London in 1928. Howard Florey and Ernst Chain, brought it to fruition working in a laboratory in Oxford in 1941. Britain had established the best record in the world for achieving major medical advances and had just developed the landmark drug of the 20th century, as well as playing a leading role in 5 out of the 7 leading medical breakthroughs between 1750 and 1948 when the NHS was established. Britain is no longer a leader in medical advances. Despite its costliness, nepotism, and other flaws, America’s private system has taken the lead.

Britain has less of the latest equipment and the old equipment is often being kept beyond the time when it is safe. If a private company was using out of date intensive care machines and x-ray machines, obsolete cancer care equipment, and operating tables over twenty years old – double their safe life span – the champions of the NHS would no doubt be clamouring for more government oversight and regulation. When government agencies are culpable, they are more or less given a pass on public outrage because they are perceived to be acting in the public interest rather than for profit.

In the UK we cannot compete with cancer survival rates in the US. A 2011 report demonstrated that the average cancer survival rate was 71.18% in the USA as compared to 54.48% in England.  Our healthcare may be free at the point of service, but fewer of us survive it. It is costly in terms of lives. In fact, the BBC recently ran an article that reported “patients ‘dying in hospital corridors’.” In one month 300,000 patients were made to wait in emergency rooms for more than four hours before being seen, with thousands more suffering long waits in ambulances before even being allowed into the emergency room.

The sad reality is that in the UK or Canada people die waiting in line for what would be quick and routine medical treatments in the US. In Britain a shocking 4 million people languish on waiting lists according to official sources up from a 7 year high of 3.4 million in 2015 as reported by The Guardian, a left-leaning newspaper, and this in a population of scarcely over 65 million. At current trends this number is set to rise above 5 million in 2019 unless we do something to reverse them.

In the UK you could turn up to an emergency room with an appendix about to burst and still be asked to wait overnight before they find you a bed. One patient reported that a lack of treatment rooms led hospital staff to examine her for gynaecological problem which had left her in severe pain and bleeding in a busy corridor, in full view of other patients. Such humiliating anecdotes could be dismissed as embarrassing one-offs were it not for the shocking fact that as many as 120 patients per day are being attended to in corridors and waiting rooms, in the public areas of hospitals, and some even dying prematurely as a result. In the first week of 2018, over 97% of NHS trusts in England were reporting levels of overcrowding so severe as to be “unsafe.”

25% of British cardiac patients die waiting for treatment, and an investigation by a British newspaper found that delays in treatment for colon and lung cancer patients have been so long that 20% of cases were incurable by the time they finally received care. 193,000 NHS patients a month wait beyond the target time of 18 weeks for surgery. According to the OECD Britain has the lowest number of doctors per thousand population in the advanced world. A chart displayed in James Bartholemew’s book The Welfare State We’re In in 20 documented that while only 1% of patients of patients in the USA had to wait over four months for surgery, while the number was 12% in Canada, 17% in Australia, 22% in New Zealand, and a shocking 33% in the UK.

Where free-at-the-point-of-entry resources are limited, older patients are viewed as a drag on the system – especially since they require the most frequent care which costs much more. The average 65-year-old costs the NHS 2.5 times more than the average 30-year-old. An 85-year-old costs more than five times as much. Although a third of all diagnosed cancers in the UK are found in patients seventy-five and over, only one in fifty lung cancer patients over seventy-five receives surgery, and the NHS does not even provide cancer screening to patients over the age of sixty-five.

The government can make waiting lists look shorter by denying patients services outright because those who have been refused services will no longer appear in statistics. If someone’s disease proves fatal because they failed to receive treatment in time, the government figures appear more cost effective because instead of having to budget for a series of expensive surgeries, they have a deceased person on their hands who will not rack up a whole lot of medical accounts. It’s not to say that anyone is perniciously trying to kill off patients, but with pressure constantly mounting for officials to show meaningful improvements, the incentive to coldly take advantage of manipulated statistics “for the greater cause of saving the NHS” will always loom. It is, after all, our religion. In one interview, prominent columnist Dr. Dalrymple reported “Managers going around the wards telling the doctors who they thought ought to be discharged. They had no medical training or knowledge. But they would try and influence the doctors to discharge patients quickly… This is a problem, of course, wherever the person paying for the care is not the patient himself… But where you have one giant organization that decides everything the hazard is even greater.”

The failings of socialised medicine are invariably blamed on budget cuts and a lack of funding by advocated of the NHS who are used to expecting medical services to be paid for by the government. The assumption is that if we were just spending more money none of this would be happening. The thing is, we are spending more money than ever before already.

In fact, the budget of the NHS doubled in real terms between 1995 and 2015 and now waiting lists are longer than ever!

This is because the shortages and inferiority of services are not caused by a lack of funding in the first place. They are caused by how we are choosing to pay for healthcare.

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Massive Iceberg Threatens Greenland Village With Tsunami

A huge iceberg has drifted dangerously close to a village on the western coast of Greenland, causing concern that it could trigger a tsunami if it breaks apart. The 300-foot-high mountain of ice lies adjacent to the village of Innaarsuit, a tiny town with 169 inhabitants.

According to the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DBC), 33 inhabitants closest to the water were evacuated on Friday and still are not allowed back to their homes. Some evacuated people have moved further inland to stay with friends or relatives in nearby towns.

Keld Quistgaard from the Danish Meteorological Institute told the DBC that satellite data shows the iceberg is between 820 and 918 feet at the highest point. Of this, only 262 to 290 feet of it is exposed above the water. Quistgaard considers the iceberg to be about 656 feet wide and weighs approximately eight to 10 million tons.

“We are used to big icebergs, but we haven’t seen such a big one before,” Susanna Eliassen, a member of the village council in Innaarsuit, told the Greenlandic Broadcasting Corporation (KNR).

On Saturday, the mountain of ice had moved out from the shore and was sitting roughly 0.3 miles away from the village. KNR still considers it a “special situation,” and images below show how the area is still at an elevated risk of a tsunami, that is if, a large piece breaks off.

BBC Radio 5 tweeted, “The village of Innaarsuit in Greenland has been evacuated because of fears that a massive iceberg, which has grounded in the bay, may split and create a tsunami that would swamp the area.”

CGTN, a 24-hour English news channel, of China Central Television, provides another unique view of the harbor, in relation to the iceberg.

In the below footage from Oline Nielsen on Facebook and licensed to KNR, a large chunk of the iceberg can be seen collapsing into the water, which sends a tidal wave into the nearby harbor.

“The unusual thing is that the iceberg is so close to the village,” said Quistgaard. This could be due to a few things: right now there is a new moon, which means the water level is rising, it could be the reason why the iceberg has drifted so close to the shore, he added.

Eliassen also told Sermitsiaq, a national newspaper in Greenland, that the fishing industry has been particularly affected by the huge mountain of ice that is stuck a little north of Innaarsuit. “Fishermen must not go fishing because they cannot trade because of the iceberg poses a danger if it calms,” she said.

She states that the inhabitants of Innaarsuit respect the evacuation notice and hope the matter can be resolved shortly.

The Greenland Emergency Board will meet Monday morning to discuss the iceberg problem in Innaarsuit, with representatives from, among others, the Self-Government, Arctic Command and Health Service. A plan of action will be formulated to aid the village, however, given the size of the mountain of ice, there is not too much the government can do.

* * *

It seems icebergs are on the move across the massive Danish territory. In June, researchers captured the moment when a four-mile long iceberg snapped off a glacier on the other side of the island.

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Mass Migration: “The Fatal Solvent Of The EU”

Authored by Giulio Meotti via The Gatestone Institute,

“Far from leading to fusion, Europe’s migration crisis is leading to fission”, Stanford’s historian Niall Ferguson recently wrote. “Increasingly, I believe that the issue of migration will be seen by future historians as the fatal solvent of the EU”. Week after week, Mr. Ferguson’s prediction seems to be turning into a reality.

Not only does Europe continue to fragment as anti-immigration sentiment gathers political strength, but, as a result of the migrant crisis, the EU’s border-free internal zone, Europe’s most cherished prize after the Second World War, is now defined as “at risk” by the Italian government, among other governments, such and Austria.

Immigration is also redefining the intra-EU contract.

The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, the so called “Visegrad Group”, recently called for EU border defense. “We have to have a Europe capable of defending us”, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said as well, after he was invited to join the Visegrad meeting.

This year, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (second from left) was invited to join the leaders of the four “Visegrad Group” countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) at their June 21 summit meeting. High on the agenda were the issues of mass-migration and border protection. (Image source: Austrian Federal Chancellor’s Office)

The new Italian populist government, after Italy saw more than 700,000 migrantsarrive on its shores in the past five years, also embraced a hard-line policy. Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini recently closed Italy’s ports to migrant vessels. In Germany, after the German chancellor clashed on immigration with her interior minister, Horst Seehofer, migrant policy could also lead to the “end of Merkel’s tenure“.

“Italy’s new populist government signals a major challenge to the European status quo, but not in the way most observers initially expected”, the author Walter Russell Mead recently commented in The Wall Street Journal. “The governing coalition has put the challenge to its euro policy on hold. Instead it is turning to a subject on which the European establishment is more vulnerable: migration”.

The entire European political consensus is fracturing under the seismic impact of the migrant wave. Migration to Europe has become a political issue “as toxic as ever“, the New York Times just noted about the current debate inside the European Union. The EU’s current trouble seems to come from a deafness among the policy elites, who refuse to take into account the problems for their citizens that have followed unvetted mass immigration.

Mass migration in the last years has simply created major troubles for Europe’s internal stability. First, there has been a security challenge. According to a new report by the Heritage Foundation:

“Almost 1,000 people have been injured or killed in terrorist attacks featuring asylum seekers or refugees since 2014. Over the past four years, 16 percent of Islamist plots in Europe featured asylum seekers or refugees. ISIS has direct connections to the majority of plots, with Germany targeted most often, and Syrians more frequently involved than any other nationality. Nearly three-quarters of plotters carry out, or have their plans thwarted, within two years of arrival in Europe.

“Since January 2014, 44 refugees or asylum seekers have been involved in 32 Islamist terror plots in Europe. These plots led to 814 injuries and 182 deaths.”

There is also a severe challenge to ethnic and religious coexistence posed by immigration. French Jews have fallen victim to a form of ethnic cleansing, according to a manifesto signed by, among others, former French President Nicholas Sarkozy and former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

“Ten per cent of the Jewish citizens of the Paris region have recently been forced to move because they were no longer secure in certain council estates” the manifesto said. “This is a quiet ethnic cleansing”.

The threat Europe is facing if it refuses to close and control the borders is examined by Stephen Smith, an expert on Africa and admired by French President Emmanuel Macron, in his new book, The Rush to Europe: Young Africa on the Way to the Old Continent. Today, he notes, 510 million Europeans live in the European Union with 1.3 billion Africans facing them. “In thirty-five years, 450 million Europeans will face some 2.5 billion Africans, five times as many”, Smith predicts. If the Africans follow the example of other parts of the developing world, such as the Mexicans in the US, “in thirty years”, according to Smith, “Europe will have between 150 and 200 million Afro-Europeans, compared with 9 million today”. Smith called this scenario “Eurafrique“. Europe’s largest migration wave since World War II has also become an increasingly urgent problem as Europe’s indigenous populations continue to age and diminish in number.

The controversial quota system for migrants has already failed. The European governments also cannot really deport migrants. In 2012, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) condemned the Italian government and ordered it to pay thousands of euros to two dozen immigrants it deported to Libya. Italian authorities had intercepted the migrants in the Mediterranean Sea when they were trying to get to the Italian island of Lampedusa from Libya. Three years later, the European Court again condemned the Italian government for deporting migrants. The European Court of Human Rights also condemned Spain in its judgment to expel of a group of 75-80 migrants from the Melilla enclave. The ECHR then condemned Hungary for detaining migrants. Europe cannot stop, deport, arrest and repatriate the migrants. What do the authorities in Brussels suggest? Bring everyone to Europe?

Andrew Michta, dean of the College of International and Security Studies at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, recently wrote that, under this mass migration, European democracies risk their own “decomposition“. We will not only see the “fission” of the already fragile European Union, but that of the Western civilization as well.

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Putin Likes To Keep Other World Leaders Waiting

President Trump became the latest leader to experience the “Putin wait” today, with the Russian president 45 minutes overdue for their summit in Helsinki.

But, as Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes, Vladimir Putin has earned a reputation for keeping other world leaders waiting.

Since 2003, the Russian leader has arrived late for numerous high profile meetings with heads of state, dignitaries and prominent officials.

Infographic: Putin Likes To Keep Other World Leaders Waiting | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

The Pope isn’t even immune from Putin’s poor timekeeping skills and he was forced to wait just under an hour for a meeting in 2015.

According to RFE/RL, Angela Merkel was kept waiting an agonising 4 hours and 15 minutes for a meeting with Putin in 2014 while former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych once waited 4 hours before sitting down with the Russian leader. It’s likely Merkel will consider her meeting with Putin in Sochi in 2007 more irritating than the tardy one in 2014.

In an incident that subsequently became infamous in Germany, Putin introduced Merkel to his pet labrador, despite the German chancellor’s fear of dogs. He recently claimed he was unaware of Merkel’s fear of dogs, adding that he apologised to the her soon after the meeting.

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Commodities Weekly: Oil tumbles on supply/demand dynamics

Oil has been the biggest mover this week with the US-China trade war continuing to undermine the global demand outlook, despite an upbeat assessment of the US economy by Fed Chairman Powell. Gold is still struggling to maintain its safe haven status and other metals remain at the mercy of the rampant US dollar, while the agricultural sector remains broadly under pressure.

Energy

Crude oil prices have slumped more than 10% over the past week as the threat of increased supply and tapering demand take hold. There is growing concern that Trump’s tariff initiative will dent global growth and hence put a lid on, or even reduce, the demand for oil. Couple this with chatter that Saudi Arabia has offered more crude cargoes to Asian customers, so oil continues its retreat from 3-1/2 year highs struck at the beginning of this month.  West Texas CFD is now trading at 68.257 and the Brent/WTI spread is holding steady at about 4 pips.

Oil Drops After US May Grant Waivers to Iran Oil Purchases

 

Natural gas appears to still be in consolidation mode after the steep slump in February this year. Summer months in the northern hemisphere is likely to keep demand subdued and Gas should remain close to the current 2-month lows. Near-term support could be found near last year’s lows in February and December around the 2.54 level.

Germany’s dependence on Russian gas and oil has once more come in to the spotlight following Trump’s visit to the NATO summit last week. Concerns that the building of a new pipeline directly linking Russia and Germany will introduce another “threat” level to the NATO alliance, be it from a dependence perspective or from a national security perspective.

 

Precious metals

Gold is still struggling for traction even as the US dollar pauses for breath after its stellar rise. The precious metal is now down 5.3% vs the dollar from its June 13 peak and has fallen 9.25% from this year’s high on January 25. Gold may find minor support at the December 2017 low of 1,236.683 and will likely be capped at the recent high of 1,266.113.

Source: Oanda fxTrade

There was little reaction to news that production at the Tongon gold mine in the Ivory Coast, which produced 288,680 ounces of gold last year, had come to a halt amid a strike by miners as government-led negotiations broke down.

Gold dips as retail sales climb

Latest data from Chicago’s Commitment of Traders report, with the snapshot taken as of July 10, shows that managed money accounts were net sellers of 1,273 gold contracts from a week prior and short positions exceeding long positions by 2,527 contracts.

Silver continues to echo gold’s heaviness and it looks set to retest the December low of 15.6316 in the near term. The low so far this year has been 15.7064. CFTC data as of July 10 shows money managers reduced net long positions by 3,434 contracts, but overall still hold net long positions.

The gold/silver (Mint) ratio has been steady over the past week with a mild upward bias targeting the 100-DMA at 79.1150.

Source: Oanda fxTrade

Platinum is just about managing to hold above the 800 mark following its first dip below the level since December 2008. A Reuters report from July 11 suggested that current prices are below the average production cost in South Africa, which was calculated to be $834 an ounce last year. Meanwhile, Johnson Matthey forecasts a global oversupply of 316,000 ounces, the biggest since 2011, for the year. The 55-DMA continues to cap to the upside while the July 3 low of 798.365 should hold in the near-term.

Palladium has drifted towards the lower end of its recent 3-month range. It is currently retracing the uptrend started at the beginning of 2016 and has so far managed a correction as deep as 21%. Palladium is currently trading at 922.52.

Base metals

Copper has plunged more than 18% from its peak in June as the escalating trade war between the US and China escalates, casting a huge shadow over the outlook for the global economy. The base metal closed below the 100-week moving average support last week for the first time since October 2016.Copper is attempting a rebound but any recovery could be limited by the slightly slower China Q2 GDP data released yesterday. Any impact from trade wars going forward on growth could limit demand for copper, since China is the top industrial metals consumer.

Agriculturals

Slowing demand and increasing production are both combining to keep sugar pressured. A report from India Sugar Mills Association yesterday suggests India’s sugar production could increase by 8.6% to 10.2% in the 2018-19 season. It estimates total acreage devoted to sugarcane is around 8% higher than the 2017-18 period. Money managers added about 11,000 contracts to short positions, according to the latest CFTC data as of July 10.

As with any crop, the weather could play a significant role and the second half of the year could see concerns about another El Nino weather pattern in Asia emerging. That could be the only hope for bulls. Sugar is now at 0.10946 after touching 0.10633 earlier today, the lowest since September 2015.

Corn is still attempting to recoup some of June’s heavy losses, and not making any headway. The CFTC data as of July 10 shows money managers are still holding net short positions, adding a net 10,064 contracts during the reporting week.

Soybeans touched a 9-1/2 year low of 8.074 early yesterday, yet appears poised for a second consecutive day of gains today. This would be the first time since end-May that the commodity has managed more than a one day uptick.  Monday’s low of 8.074 should provide near-term support while the July 6 high of 8.761 will be the next resistance point.

Wheat continues to hold above the 200-DMA at 4.4944 and is currently consolidating a rebound off a near-three month low seen last week. In a report released at the end of last week, the US Department of Agriculture offered a bullish outlook for wheat production, increasing harvested acres while upping yields per acre as winter wheat yields in the plains have been better than expected. They are also expecting a whopper spring wheat crop.

US “Super Spy” Program May Explain Mysterious Diplomat Brain Injuries

Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Over the past two years there have been increasing reports of supposed “sonic injuries” among US diplomats. First in Cuba and more recently in China. Controversial implications are that the US officials may have been maliciously targeted by a “sonic weapon” in host countries. However, a more likely explanation is that the alleged victims are the result of US attempts to create “super spies”.

The number of American diplomats reportedly suffering from suspected “sonic injuries” is increasing, with 11 officials evacuated earlier this month from China. Initially, the mysterious incident was reported at just one US consular location in the city of Guangzhou. Now the suspicion of brain injuries has spread to American diplomats stationed in Beijing and Shanghai.

Some 250 US diplomats in China are reportedly undergoing neurological medical tests to ascertain if they have succumbed to the same kind of brain trauma diagnosed in other colleagues. A study of 21 diplomats evacuated from Cuba found last year that they had incurred brain injuries, but, it was diagnosed, not from physical impact to their heads.

Typically, the symptoms reported include cognitive impairment, visual impairment, hearing of strange sounds, dizziness and sleeplessness.

US doctors have so far been confounded by what may have caused the apparent injuries. Last week, the State Department said that ongoing investigations had not established a causal link to the cited medical problems among diplomats.

However, previously President Donald Trump had explicitly blamed Cuba for being responsible for the reported injuries to diplomatic staff. Trump’s accusation has no evidential foundation. The Cuban government denied having any involvement in presumed sonic attacks on American envoys. It has offered to assist any US investigation. Nevertheless, the evacuation of US staff from Cuba and Trump’s accusations have set back the recent detente in relations between the two Cold War foes which former President Obama had embarked on.

With regard to China, the US has been more circumspect in dealing with the reported cases of apparent sonic injuries, refraining from accusing Beijing of malicious activity. China has previously dismissed any suspicion of sonic attacks as “inconceivable”. Beijing has also hit out the US State Department issuing “health warnings” to its staff in China because such notifications convey an implication of wrongdoing by the host country.

In the context of Trump’s escalating trade war with China, there is the danger that reported cases of injury among diplomats could be politicized by Washington, thus adding to the already acrimonious relations.

Some factors so far missing from the subject need to be addressed.

First, it seems strange that the mysterious brain injuries are only reported by US diplomats. No other country has reported similar incidents among their diplomatic staff.

Secondly, the American brain-injury cases have happened in two countries which could be deemed as politically sensitive. Why have similar cases not been reported among staff based in territories belonging to allied nations?

Thirdly, when US staff are described as “diplomats”, as they invariably are in Western media reporting, we should perhaps be more precise than this innocuous-sounding terminology. If we think of the personnel as “spies” then a more skeptical inference comes into play. Especially, given the sensitive nature of the two countries involved. If the concerned US staff were indeed serving as spies that raises the question about what sort of training and preparation programs they were subjected to ahead of their assignments.

The speculation that Cuban and Chinese state agents could have used some kind of sonic weapon to attack US diplomats is more in the realm of science-fiction fantasy. Both countries deny any such activity. There is no such weapon known to exist. Also, the US doctors who examined the diplomats evacuated from Cuba could not find any casual explanation. The absence of an external source for the injuries appears to be the official US position too, according to the State Department last week.

Significantly, the US doctors studying the Cuban cases said that all the individuals may have undergone a common experience related to their brain injuries.

Rather than speculating about a foreign agency being responsible for the injuries among American diplomats, or rather spies, perhaps the focus should be put on their own side. Were these individuals subjected to some form of hi-tech training run by the Pentagon or the CIA?

It is known that the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) is investigating brain stimulation devices to greatly enhance learning ability in subjects.

DARPA, as recently as last year, reported the successful use of trans-cranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) devices to boost the cognitive skills among experimental monkeys. It was claimed that subjects given treatment from such devices strapped to the head would later display a significant increase in learning and intelligence compared with control individuals receiving no treatment. DARPA reported a 40 per cent increase in learning ability among macaque monkeys subjected to the brain stimulation device.

One of the lead doctors in the program is quoted as saying: “In this experiment, we targeted the prefrontal cortex [of the brain] with individualized non-invasive stimulation montages.”

The researcher goes on to explain: “That is the region [of the brain] that controls many executive functions, including decision-making, cognitive control, and contextual memory retrieval. It is connected to almost all the other cortical areas of the brain, and stimulating it has widespread effects.”

Please note the parting caveat from the Pentagon-contracted scientist, viz., “stimulating has widespread effects”.

On the positive side, the Pentagon is evidently searching for a way to boost intelligence and learning in humans. This is by no means a new pursuit. For decades, American military intelligence agencies, as well as Hollywood science fiction, have been in thrall to the idea of harnessing the human brain and exploiting ever-higher levels of intelligence. The CIA is known to have run various drug programs and hypnosis – the notorious MK-ULTRA – as early as the 1950s and 60s. The holy grail was to find “super spies” and “super assassins”.

So, the history of the Pentagon and the CIA conducting systematic experiments in order to produce high-performance in humans is well documented.

We also know from recent Pentagon research that it is indeed using electronic brain stimulation devices to greatly enhance the cognitive performance among monkeys. It is therefore conceivable that the Pentagon has conducted unpublished research experiments on human subjects as well.

On the negative side, the sought-after higher intelligence may very well come with unforeseen injurious side-effects. Note again the Pentagon researcher above saying that stimulating the prefrontal cortex of the brain could have “wide-ranging effects”. These effects, in addition to increased intelligence and learning skills, could include deleterious consequences. Especially because the target area of the brain is crucial for the control of “executive functions”.

It is not disclosed by the Pentagon if its brain devices had any injurious impact on the experimental monkeys.

We also do not know the precise work assignments of the affected “diplomats” in Cuba and China. Were there any routine secretarial staff among the reported casualties, or were they all “field staff”, that is, most likely involved in sensitive spying tasks?

It seems unlikely that the Pentagon or affected staff would ever go public in declaring that they were subjected to some form of brain-stimulation device. In any case, the staff could be easily silenced through warnings over career prospects and future earnings or health insurance cover. It may be more convenient for the Pentagon to foment the suspicion of “sonic attack” by foreign agents. That scapegoating could have serious impact on international tensions, especially between the US and China over its trade war and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Nevertheless, despite the unknowns, from what we do know already, it seems a plausible posit that the recent upsurge in brain injuries among US diplomatic staff may have been caused not by “sonic attacks” in their host countries, but by their own superiors at the Pentagon or CIA conducting some form of clandestine program to create “super spies”.

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Army Starts Testing “Ironman-Like” Exoskeleton For Future Hybrid Wars

As discussed previously, the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC, drafted a new strategy for how soldiers will operate, fight, and campaign successfully across multiple domains—space, cyberspace, air, land, maritime—against all enemies (Russia and China) in the 2025-2040 timeframe.

Warrior Maven has confirmed that the Army is literally “gearing up” for decades of hybrid conflict, and in doing so, testing and prototyping self-generating “Ironman-like” soldier exoskeletons. These “breakthrough” suits are designed to transform the combat mission by supporting soldier movements, generating electricity, powering weapons systems and substantially lowering the weight burden of what soldiers carry on the modern battlefield.

The emerging technology, described by Army developers as a “technical breakthrough” is an energy-harvesting exoskeleton suit that can extend mission life for small units or dismounted soldiers on patrol.

“The design is for an energy-harvesting exoskeleton to address the needs of dismounted soldiers. The system can derive energy from the motion of the soldier as they are moving around,” Dr. Nathan Sharps, mechanical engineer, Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) recently told Warrior Maven in an interview.

The implications of this technology would be decisive on tomorrow’s battlefield, and could mean the difference between life and death. Last month, elite soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division, a light infantry division at Fort Drum, New York, started testing exoskeleton technologies from Lockheed Martin that reduces the metabolic cost of transport to improve endurance and reduce fatigue on the modern battlefield.

While the exoskeleton suits have been in development for many years, the technology consistently faces the challenge of finding ways to power the devices to maintain its functionality. While current battery technology has evolved, batteries present significant combat challenges due to recharging and weight. The Army is pursuing various efforts to “lighten the load” for soldiers, including the use of exoskeleton suits, robotic pack mules, and cased telescoped ammo.

“The technologies [exoskeleton suits] we are developing can produce electricity, which can be stored and used to power batteries. This increases the longevity of a mission, decreases the need for resupply and reduces the logistics trail,” Sharps explained.

Sharps told Warrior Maven that in hot zones, casualties frequently occur during logistics resupply missions.

While the exoskeleton suit harvests energy from the motion of soldiers, it also simultaneously provides injury prevention and higher output to complete the mission.

“This decreases the chance of muscular-skeletal injury. We look at the soldier as an individual ecosystem. We’re not just looking at what they cannot do right now, but also at what challenges they are going to face 20 years from now,” Sharps said.

Warrior Maven indicates the suit, currently in the early phase of development, is a collaborative effort between the Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) and the Army Natick Soldier Systems Center (NSSC). The engineers said the exoskeleton suit reduces the metabolic cost of transport on the modern battlefield.

“When you move, you bounce up and down, and the gait motion is an inverted pendulum. If you lift every step thousands of times, it is a whole lot of energy you are expending,” said Juliane Douglas, mechanical engineer, CERDEC, told Warrior Maven.

Army engineers are experimenting with various configurations for the exoskeleton, including a suspended backpack, which can slide up and down on a spring, enabling little or no weight impact on the soldier.

“In mechanical engineering terms, if you have masses moving together, there is a kinetic energy difference between the two. We have mechanisms which can convert that linear motion into electricity,” explained Douglas.

* * *

Warrior Maven said emerging systems are now being integrated into exoskeletons, for example, helmets with high-resolution thermal sensors, wearable computers, various kinds of conformal body armor and even many weapons systems are now being built into a range of Ironman-like exoskeletons.

Not surprisingly, many of the listed technologies above, heavily rely upon the mobile power to operate and limit the combat mission.  Energy-harvesting exoskeleton suits would be a gamechanger for soldiers on the modern battlefield to increase combat output while simultaneously decreasing the metabolic cost of transport to complete the mission.

With the Army increasingly expecting hybrid wars in the 2025-2040 timeframe as the Thucydides Trap inflection point nears,  “Ironman-like” exoskeletons are emerging as the dominant strategy to defeat potential enemies (especially ascendant China) in the coming conflicts.

Unless of course China steals the technology, reverse engineers it and comes out with the first working product.

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Did Xi’s Overly-Ambitious Goals Trigger US-China Trade War?

Authored by Katsuji Nakazawa via Nikkei Asian Review,

Talk of becoming world No.1 backfired, hurting even dinner tables…

Soon, all 1.4 billion Chinese will be feeling the pinch of Donald Trump’s presidency an ocean away.

They will look at their dining table and notice their favorite dishes — Chinese-style deep fried chicken, firecracker chicken and twice-cooked pork — are all cooked with lots of oil, much of which is pressed from the seeds of American or Brazilian soybeans.

Similarly, many of China’s pigs and chickens are raised on imported soybean meal, the residue left after oil extraction.

Doubanjiang, the chili-bean paste that determines the splendor of Chinese cuisine, also cannot be made without soybeans. Of the above mentioned dishes, cabbage is about the only ingredient the country can fully provide for itself.

President Trump last week imposed 25% punitive import tariffs on Chinese products, citing violations of intellectual property rights. Chinese President Xi Jinping responded immediately, slapping 25% retaliatory import tariffs on American products, including soybeans.

As a result of the soybean levy, the cost of food in China will jump, dealing a serious blow to Chinese farmers and eaters.

The dish on the right is called laziji and is popular among ordinary Chinese. But it and other Chinese staples will cost more due to China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products. (Photo by Katsuji Nakazawa)

To be sure, discontent might also grow in U.S. agricultural states, where farmers are already having difficulty selling soybeans and other produce to China. Trump could end up losing support from those in the agriculture sector.

The big question is why the game of chicken actually broke out. Xi may have nobody but himself to blame.

Since the days of Deng Xiaoping, China had maintained a less-assertive foreign policy, portraying itself as a “developing country.” Deng’s guidance was to keep a cool head, hide one’s claws, bide time and never try to take the lead.

After coming to power as the Chinese Communist Party’s general secretary in the autumn of 2012, Xi ditched that policy and started to talk of the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” He labeled it as the Chinese dream.

At the Chinese Communist Party’s once-every-five-years national congress in October, Xi went further, floating for the first time the target year of 2035 as the time China would catch up with the U.S. economically.

In November, He Yiting, the vice president of the Central Party School, gave a speech in Tokyo explaining the meaning of Xi’s words. The goal of achieving China’s modernization had long been set at the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China’s, which falls in 2049. “That goal has now been brought forward by about 15 years,” He told Japanese lawmakers at the parliament building in Tokyo’s Nagatacho district.

He Yiting was unaware of the consequences of President Xi Jinping’s stated goals when he explained them to Japanese lawmakers in Tokyo on Nov. 24, 2017. 

Around the same time, senior party officials were giving similar explanations about Xi’s new policy around the world.

By bringing forward the goal, Xi was telling the world that China will become the world’s number one during his lifetime.

Xi, who would be 82 in 2035, assured his stature in March, when he had a clause allowing a president to serve up to two five-year terms removed from the nation’s constitution.

Little did he or his team imagine that his words would help to trigger a Sino-U. S. trade war. Instead of hiding his claws, Xi had flashed them. And it had come too early.

By expediting the modernization plan, Beijing would also be accelerating the “Made in China 2025” initiative, a blueprint for turning the country into a high-tech manufacturing powerhouse. The plan has been singled out by the Trump administration as a symbol of China’s ambition to gain an advantage in next-generation technology, even if it meant stealing intellectual property.

“Made in China 2025” was compiled three years ago, with Premier Li Keqiang playing a central role. Back then, it was not clear that Xi wanted to bring forward the goal of gaining No. 1 status. It was only after the plan was published, that the new aspiration of catching up and overtaking the U.S. economically by 2035 was added. The step after that would be to outstrip the U.S. both militarily and culturally by 2049.

China has good reason to trumpet its long-term targets at home: It needs to justify the socialist system that it continues to uphold. Although its economy is no longer a purely planned one, China does adopt five-year outlines, and the “Made in China 2025” strategy is closely linked to the current five-year plan.

One notorious plan was the Great Leap Forward of 1958, a high-growth campaign, launched by Mao Zedong but failed miserably. China declared its ambition to catch up with the U.K., then the world’s second-largest economy.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang played a central role in compiling the “Made in China 2025” plan.   © Reuters

With Mao leading the country, China significantly boosted steel production. But rural areas were devastated, and more than 20 million people starved to death. Mao eventually resigned as head of state.

Today’s China is nothing like the shell it was during Mao’s time. The country’s economy now plays an integral global role.

China ranges over the global economy like a bull elephant roams the savanna. Other grassland wildlife is sensitive to this mammoth’s slightest moves. The ferocious lion, the U.S., is no exception.

China has yet to become fully aware that it is the elephant in the global economy’s boardroom.

But in Washington, Trump was cognizant that he could not stand idly by after China vowed to knock the U.S. off its economic pedestal in just 17 years from now. He campaigned for the presidency by promising voters he would put “America first.”

News of China’s decision to bring forward its modernization target date emerged at a bad time. It came shortly after Xi had promised Trump business deals worth $250 billion. That pledge came in November, when Trump was visiting Beijing, and was portrayed as a salve that would help to heal the U.S.’s massive trade deficit with China.

As expected, it was little more than talk. The trade gap continues to quickly widen.

Alarmed by China’s ambitions and frustrated by the lack of progress in narrowing the U.S. trade deficit, Trump went on the offensive in the spring.

There are good reasons for China coming under U.S. trade fire. It has been the biggest beneficiary of the global trade system since it became a member of the World Trade Organization at the end of 2001.

All the while, it has imposed strict foreign ownership limits in each industrial sector, forced foreign companies that enter China to transfer technologies and has set up various other barriers to its markets.

Backed by huge amounts of government funds, Chinese companies have made splashy acquisitions of U.S. and European companies that own key technologies, especially in the auto and information technology sectors.

Chinese companies can quickly obtain technologies by acquiring or taking equity investments in U.S. and European companies. In the U.S. and Europe, any company can acquire any other company as long as it can obtain the necessary funds.

But it is difficult for U.S. and European companies to acquire Chinese companies. Chinese authorities have numerous regulations at their disposal to block any such attempt.

Chinese President Xi Jinping unwittingly laid the groundwork for the trade war that is now taking place between China and the U.S.   © Reuters

When Xi bared China’s sharp claws, declaring China would overtake the U.S. economically by 2035, he did so for the benefit of a domestic audience and to aid his fierce power struggle with the political factions that had run China for decades.

China is now beginning to realize the high price it is having to pay for Xi’s declaration.

If prices for ingredients in Chinese dishes climb, so too will discontent among Chinese consumers. This could lead to a barrage of attacks against U.S. companies operating in China.

Worried about social instability, the Chinese leadership has been careful not to overplay the trade war in domestic media. In terms of diplomacy, Beijing could go back to hiding its claws again.

But that would only be superficial. At the core, Xi cannot retract a grand target adopted at the Communist Party congress, just as he cannot discard the “Made in China 2025” goal.

In an interconnected world, China’s misty domestic politics will continue to influence the global economy for many years to come.

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Company Hikes Price Of “Cadillac” Ambien Nasal Spray By 800% As Drug Companies Defy Trump

While Pfizer and several drugmakers have loudly touted their decision to roll back some price hikes on popular drugs following pressure from President Trump and the rollout of a new California law designed to discourage drug companies from raising prices, others have continued hiking prices of thousands of drugs. According to Raymond James & Associates drug companies have raised prices 3,653 times on 1,045 different drugs so far this year (drug companies often do one round of price hikes in January and another in the early summer). And according to the Wall Street Journal, the biggest price increases have been reserved for so-called “Cadillac” drugs like a new spray form of the sleeping medication Ambien.

Aytu

Some of the price hikes impacted life-saving drugs like Ampyra, which is used to treat multiple sclerosis. Its owner, Acorda, hiked its price by 20% this year.

Drugs

As for the sleep medication mentioned above, a small Colorado-based company called Aytu Bioscience recently raised the price of the spray formulation sold under the brand name Zolpimist by more than 800%, according to WSJ. 

The median price increase is 8%, but some specific increases have been far greater. Aytu BioScience Inc. raised the list price of a 7.7 milliliter bottle of its sleep aid Zolpimist to $659 from $69.88, while increasing the price of a 4.5 milliliter bottle by 747% to $329.50, according to RELX PLC’s Elsevier Gold Standard Drug Database. The drug is a spray version of zolpidem, the key ingredient in Ambien, which is widely available as cheap generic pills.

In a tactic reminiscent of Valeant Pharmaceuticals and Martin Shkreli’s Turing Pharmaceuticals, Aytu bought the rights to sell Zolpimist in the US from a Canadian firm called Magna Pharmaceuticals, then jacked up the price.

Aytu, of Englewood, Colo., raised the price of Zolpimist on Tuesday, about a month after buying the rights to sell the drug in the U.S. and Canada from Magna Pharmaceuticals Inc. The practice of buying rights and then raising the price, by companies including Valeant Pharmaceuticals under then-CEO Michael Pearson and Martin Shkreli’s Turing Pharmaceuticals AG, has drawn criticism from public officials and others because the companies didn’t invest in developing the drugs.

Asked by the paper for his company’s reason for hiking the price of the drug, Aytu CEO Josh Disbrow said the company was just bringing the price of Zolpimist in line with other comparable drugs. He added that people who can’t afford the spray version can buy the generic pill form instead. The drug, he said, was designed for the small number of wealthy patients who prefer the oral spray over lower priced pills.

Chief Executive Josh Disbrow said Aytu raised Zolpimist’s list price to bring it in line with the cost of other brand-name sleep drugs. He said Zolpimist was for the small number of patients willing to pay more, often out of their own pockets, for the oral spray than for lower-priced pills.

“For those people who want a Cadillac, they can pay for it,” Mr. Disbrow said in an interview.

Aytu’s increase in the list price of Zolpimist was among the biggest increases taken in the middle of this year, according to Elsevier’s data on the wholesale-acquisition cost of prescription drugs. Bloomberg earlier reported the Zolpimist increases.

[…]

Mr. Disbrow said Aytu’s increases for Zolpimist were different than other examples because the drug is for a lifestyle condition rather than a life-threatening disease, and generic options are available.

“It’s a luxury item. Patients can choose to be on the generic. We want to have it out there for patients who value their rapid sleep,” Mr. Disbrow said. He added that Aytu, which sells a drug for low testosterone, doesn’t depend on the Zolpimist price increases to raise sales. Aytu reported $2.7 million in revenue for the nine months ending March 31.

Mr. Disbrow said he expected most sleep-aid patients would buy the generics, and health plans would require people to try the generics before looking at other options. Doctors write more than 30 million zolpidem prescriptions a year, though fewer than 2,000 of them for Zolpimist, he said.

Still, the thousands of price hikes on Zolpimist and other drugs show that presidential pressure isn’t enough to stop drug companies from raising prices and for engaging in tactics like buying selling rights and then hiking prices.

“These types of increases indicate that public criticism, even from President Trump, are not enough to change the trajectory of drug costs,” said Michael Rea, chief executive of Rx Savings Solutions, which sells software to help employers and health insurers lower their drug spending.

Then again, when drug companies can sell one drug in the US for nearly $40,000 – and the same drug in Europe for $8 – there’s quite a bit of incentive for the gangster capitalists who run the world’s pharmaceutical firms to simply submit without a fight.

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Cops Attempt Gun Confiscation Without Warrant; This New Jersey Man Said “No”

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

Police in New Jersey have officially crossed the [thin blue] line and literally attempted to confiscate guns from an army veteran without a warrant.  But it didn’t go as planned, because  Leonard Cottrell Jr. refused to comply with the orders of the cops.

Eventually, all gun confiscation will be carried out by the police; who “don’t make the laws, they just enforce them,” and Cottrell found this out the hard way.  After serving two tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom overseas, Cottrell found himself at end of the state’s tyrannical oppression and gun elimination scheme.

According to The Daily Wire, two police officers were given orders to go to Cottrell’s home to confiscate his guns.  The order followers complied, and “because [Cottrell’s] 13-year-old son had made a comment at school about the Millstone Middle School’s security, and the officers wanted to confiscate Cottrell’s firearms as part of an investigation,” NJ.com reported. But Cottrell disobeyed and defied the orders of the police.

Cottrell legally owns a shotgun and a handgun (not quite a cache of weapons by any stretch of the imagination) but based solely on comments made by his 13-year-old son, police demanded all his guns.  According to the report by The Daily Wire, Cottrell says that his wife let the officers into their home and let them search their sons’ room where they did not find any weapons. But the search didn’t end there. The officers then made attempts to try to take his firearms, which “he has all the correct permits to own.”

“No one from the state was going to take my firearms without due process,” Cottrell said, according to NJ.com.  According to New Jersey law, signed into law Cottrell’s disobedience is “illegal.”  Democrat Governor Phil Murphy a bill that makes it incredibly easy for law enforcement to confiscate firearms without due process and for seemingly any reason the state deems.

Cottrell said that his son is also very upset by the situation.

The teenager did not do anything wrong and the entire situation is being misconstrued and blown up.

“He didn’t do anything wrong, and he doesn’t understand why it happened — he was just having a conversation with nothing as far as threats,” Cottrell said. “It shouldn’t have blown up the way it did. But he understands it happened, there are consequences and there’s fallout from his actions.”

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