Friday, October 31, 2014


This is what happens when you take "non-profit" government programs and convert them to "for profit" private sector business ventures. Contracting space travel to the private sector puts the focus on making a bigger profit by cutting costs which compromises the quality of the product and safety.

Authorities in the western U.S. state of California say a space tourism rocket has crashed while on a test flight in the Mojave desert, killing one pilot and seriously injuring another.

The CEO of Virgin Galactic -- founded by British billionaire Richard Branson -- said it will work with the relevant authorities to determine the cause of the accident. Branson said on Twitter that he is flying to California immediately.

The company plans to sell trips on SpaceShipTwo to the edge of space, about 100 kilometers above Earth. Passengers would have a few minutes of weightlessness before returning to Earth.

More than 500 people have already put down deposits to travel in the spacecraft.

When the dust settles what we see is that the space program is now being funded by US taxpayers to entertain the wealthy few with tax-payer funded space rides. 

It is the second accident suffered by a private U.S. space company this week. On Tuesday, an unmanned commercial rocket that was supposed to send a cargo ship to the International Space Station exploded seconds after liftoff from a NASA launch pad in the eastern state of Virginia.

An unmanned rocket owned by private firm Orbital Sciences Corporation exploded Tuesday in a giant fireball and plummeted back to Earth just seconds after a launch from Wallops Island, Virginia on what was to be a resupply mission.

Orbital's Cygnus cargo ship was carrying 5,000 pounds (2,200 kilograms) of supplies for the six astronauts living at the research outpost, a US-led multi-national collaboration.

Officials said the cost of the rocket and supplies was over $200 million, not including the damage caused on the ground.

That's 200 million tax payer dollars up in smoke. The Russians on the other hand are sticking to the tried and true approach and, as they did by being first in space (Sputnik) are now picking up the ball.

Russia on Wednesday successfully launched its own supply mission from the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan.
Europe stopped delivering supplies to the ISS this summer, and the outpost is now resupplied by Russia and two NASA-contracted private American firms -- Space X and Orbital Sciences.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


What kind of hunter would shoot pigeons? Worse still what kind of American would eat dogs and cats?

The NRA proudly supports both of these practices; as lame and demented as they are and lobbied strongly against legislation to ban them in Pennsylvania.

Earlier this month, a lopsided majority of the Pennsylvania Senate passed a bill that, among other things, would have subjected anyone who “[b]reeds, keeps, sells, offers for sale or transfers a dog or cat for the purpose of human consumption” to up to seven years in prison. This proposed ban was inspired by a series of investigations by the Pennsylvania SPCA which uncovered kennels where dogs were bred for meat, including one ten year-old incident in Philadelphia where a single kennel kept 150 dogs.

It is currently legal to slaughter and eat dogs or cats in Pennsylvania, and, thanks in large part to lobbying from the National Rifle Association, it will remain so. Although the animal cruelty bill passed the state senate by a 36-12 margin — and even though Gov. Tom Corbett (R) was expected to sign it — legislative leaders in the state house did not include this bill in the final list of legislation that would receive a vote before the end of the house’s 2013-2014 session. The NRA swiftly claimed victory for killing what it viewed as a “misguided” bill.

The NRA’s primary objection to the animal cruelty bill was a separate provision banning what are known as “pigeon shoots” (although it is worth nothing that the NRA assembled a coalition of groups to oppose the bill that includes dog breeders opposed to additional regulation of kennels). According to thePhiladelphia Inquirer, pigeon shoots are “a practice where live pigeons are launched from electronic boxes while shooters fire rounds at short distance. Injured birds that land in the shooting circle get their necks broken – often by teenagers. Wounded birds by the hundreds fly off to die slow deaths.” Animal rights activists have been working to ban this practice for the last 27 years.

Nevertheless, the NRA described pigeon shoots as an “ethical” practice. They also argue that if this “traditional shooting sport” is banned then it will lead to a “slippery slope” where other firearms activity will also be banned.


U.S. income inequality is bad, but wealth inequality is a bigger problem

Thomas Jefferson and his fellows were deeply hostile to the accumulation of great wealth, especially by inheritance. In a famous 1812 letter to the printer Joseph Milligan, Jefferson acknowledges that "the overgrown wealth of an individual [may] be deemed dangerous to the State."

In economic terms, he wrote to James Madison, "whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right."

And in his autobiography Jefferson wrote of the bills he had advocated or passed to form "a system by which every fibre would be eradicated of antient [sic] or future aristocracy; and a foundation laid for a government truly republican." His goal was to "prevent the accumulation and perpetuation of wealth in select families, and preserve the soil of the country from being daily more & more absorbed in Mortmain" (that is, the perpetual ownership of real estate by a church, corporation, or other legal entity).

Jefferson was in many ways a modern man, but his goals have come to naught, in part because the very legal measures he advocated have been dismantled by conservatives acting, supposedly, in his name.

Emanuel Saez, that assiduous tracker of economic inequality in the U.S., has been shifting his attention away from income inequality to a broader, thornier and more intractable issue: wealth inequality. As he observes in a paper published this week at the blog of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, wealth inequality is "exploding," constituting "a direct threat to the cherished American ideals of meritocracy and opportunity."

Wealth inequality is also an artifact of income inequality; the two trends work together to magnify the former. As the bottom 90% struggle to make ends meet on stagnant incomes, they're unable to accumulate savings. "Today, the top 1% save about 35% of their income," the authors write, "while bottom 90% families save about zero."

Strong measures will be needed to reverse this otherwise inexorable trend, they write. "Ten or twenty years from now, all the gains in wealth democratization achieved during the New Deal and the post-war decades could be lost. While the rich would be extremely rich, ordinary families would own next to nothing, with debts almost as high as their assets."

Among their prescriptions for the rebuilding of middle-class wealth are higher taxes on capital income -- "current preferential rates on capital income compared to wage income are hard to defend in light of the rise of wealth inequality" -- and on inheritances. "Estate taxation is the most direct tool to prevent self-made fortunes from becoming inherited wealth -- the least justifiable form of inequality in the American meritocratic ideal." Progressive estate and income taxation were the key tools that reduced the concentration of wealth after the Great Depression," they write. "The same proven tools are needed today."

Friday, October 24, 2014


Universities are handing out degrees in football. Reading, Math, History, etc. not required.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — It was November 2009, and alarm was spreading among the academic counselors charged with bolstering the grades of football players at the University of North Carolina. For years the players and others had been receiving A’s and B’s in nonexistent classes in the African studies department, but the administrator who had set up and run the fake classes had just retired, taking all those easy grades with her.

The counselors convened a meeting of the university’s football coaches, using a PowerPoint presentation to drive home the notion that the classes “had played a large role in keeping underprepared and/or unmotivated players eligible to play,” according to a report released by the university on Wednesday.

“We put them in classes that met degree requirements in which ... they didn’t go to class ... they didn’t have to take notes, have to stay awake ... they didn’t have to meet with professors ... they didn’t have to pay attention or necessarily engage with the material,” a slide in the presentation said. “THESE NO LONGER EXIST!”

Wednesday’s report, prepared by Kenneth L. Wainstein, a former general counsel at the F.B.I. and now a partner at the law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, found that between 1993 and 2011, two employees in the university’s African and Afro-American studies department presided over what was essentially a “shadow curriculum” designed to help struggling students — many of them Tar Heels athletes — stay afloat.

It is the latest in a series of investigations into the scandal, which first came to public attention three years ago. The revelations have cast a decidedly unflattering light on the university, which has long boasted of its ability to maintain high academic standards while running a top-flight sports program. Until now, the university has emphasized that the scandal was purely academic. On Wednesday, it acknowledged for the first time that it was also athletic, with members of sports teams being steered into and benefiting disproportionately from the fraudulent classes.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


It's obvious from the numbers that Americans are so addicted to football they are willing to put their children in harms way for the sake of the sport.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 173,000 recreation-related traumatic brain injuries to children and adolescents are treated in U.S. emergency departments every year. Boys between 10 and 19 who play football are far more likely to suffer such injuries.

"He's been playing tackle football since he was 5. He has always seen himself as a football player named Rick, not Rick, who plays football."

At 13, in a parent-organized league called the Junior All-American Football Conference, Rick had a concussion that put him out for three games. In his second game back, he was hit from behind on a tackle, fumbled and appeared to go limp for a moment. When parents and coaches started out on the field to come to his aid, Rick popped up and waved them off. Shortly after the game, the concussion symptoms were back.

Under the headline "Football cannot be made safe — not for our kids, not for our souls": Research at Boston University found that the typical high school football player takes 1,000 blows to the head each season, with the average force of 20G. That's more than college football players.

—Dave D'Alessandro, Newark Star Ledger, Oct. 17, 2014

Tom Cutinella played guard and linebacker for a Long Island, N.Y., high school, Shoreham-Wading River. He was 16. He had a collision with another player in a game Oct. 1 and died shortly afterward, "becoming the third high school football player nationally to die in a week." His team had started the season 3-0, and after one of those victories, Cutinella tweeted: "Best moment of my life."

—New York Times, Oct. 2, 2014

Saturday, October 18, 2014


EXCESSIVE WEALTH DISORDER It's not listed in the DSM and no one is offering to treat the condition. But none the less it is something to be concerned about.

Anyone with common sense and average intelligence knows that too much of anything is not good for you. Aristotle pointed out that "moderation in all things" is the key to healthy living.

So it is with wealth, though there are many (usually the wealthy) who will tell you different.

What seems to not be taken into account is that "excessive" wealth  directly correlates with "excessive" poverty given that we do live on a planet with limited resources. There's only so much of anything to go around; including wealth.

There are those (usually the wealthy) who would tell you that being wealthy is a good thing because wealth is the engine that drives growth that results in creating more wealth for more people;be it at a "trickle." We are reassured that "there are no have-nots, but only haves and soon to haves." Who can argue with that when it's put that way?

When someone does make a fuss by pointing out that poverty is a result of too much wealth going to too few people the retort is usually quoting Jesus who said  "the poor will always be with us" and they leave out the part about, "but love them as you would your self."  They also fail to mention that Jesus gave fair warning to those that ignored their brothers; telling them that they had a worse chance of getting into heaven than a camel passing through the eye of a needle.

It's reasonable to surmise that Jesus was sending a message, acknowledging that even though poverty wasn't going to go away the wealthy had a responsibility to care for those afflicted by it so that neither condition would grow to be excessive.

Granted; wealth and poverty will always be with us. There's no doubt that societies are constructed on a continuum that allows for both. It's only when they are in excess that both wealth and poverty destroy the foundation that a civil society is built on.

Being excessively wealthy is much like being morbidly obese.  It's not healthy. Like weight it can be measured in terms of volume whereas a morbidly obese person eats just for the sake of eating, an excessively wealthy person consumes, wastes or hoards just for the sake of consuming, wasting and hoarding. There is no rational reason other than they can.

For example, a large number of excessively wealthy people behave irrationally when it comes to owning simple things used in everyday living. Take owning a wristwatch, for example. Even the most advanced (the iWatch) costs around $500.00; something that not everyone can afford but ready made for a wealthy consumer.

So, how does one explain why someone would spend as much as a $100,000.00 (or more) on a wristwatch that does nothing more than tell time?  Or $5.00 on an "purified"ice cube? Or $150 million on a home with a 100 car garage, 20 bathrooms, an a bowling alley.

Neither obesity or excessive wealth is rational. In the case of weight it is easily defined as a disorder, dysfunctional, and unhealthy. Yet, when it comes to wealth it is praised, glorified, and touted as a sign of success.

Simply put, it's excessive, irrational and bordering on crazy. It is a psychological disorder that left untreated seriously damages the society as witnessed by conditions now being described as "income inequality."

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in a speech on the subject on Friday, that she is“greatly concerned by the extent, and continuing increase, of wealth inequality in the United States.”, noting the “significant income and wealth gains for those at the very top, and stagnant living standards for the majority.”

She is echoing economists’ growing concerns of recent years.

The statistics are shocking. A 2012 academic study by NYU economist Edward N. Wolff, ‘The Asset Price Meltdown and the Wealth of the Middle Class’,revealed that the richest 5% of Americans hold 88.9% of the nation’s wealth. A study by European Central Bank economists estimates that just the richest 1% of Americans control 35% of the wealth.

She suggested in a detailed speech on the politically charged issue that Americans should ask whether it was compatible with U.S. values.

With global financial markets coming off a few days of frenzied selling, Yellen did not comment on the volatility or on monetary policy. Instead she focused on the gulf between rich and poor that has only grown wider over the last several decades and, she said, through the U.S. economic recovery.

"The extent of and continuing increase in inequality in the United States greatly concern me," Yellen told a conference on inequality at the Boston branch of the central bank.

"It is no secret that the past few decades of widening inequality can be summed up as significant income and wealth gains for those at the very top and stagnant living standards for the majority," she said in prepared remarks.

"I think it is appropriate to ask whether this trend is compatible with values rooted in our nation's history, among them the high value Americans have traditionally placed on equality of opportunity."

Friday, October 17, 2014


When it comes to healthcare the worse possible scenario is having an incident involving the state of Texas, it's governor, Rick Perry, and a serious outbreak of a contagious disease.

For starters;

Rick Perry upholds the right of Texans to have the worst health care in the country

First, he told the interviewer that our state won’t participate in health care expansion because the real issue is freedom: “We’re just not going to be a part of socializing health care in the state of Texas.’’

Add to this; 

Texas was“Rated "weak" or "very weak" in nine of 12 health delivery categories, Texas dropped from 47th place in 2010 to 51st in 2011, behind all other states and Washington, D.C.,’’according to the Houston Chronicle.

The lead author of the federal study told the Chronicle that one factor in the ranking was the high proportion of residents who lack any form of health insurance.

In fact, Texas has the nation’s highest rate of uninsured people; more than 25 percent of Texans lack medical coverage.

You end up with; 

Dallas Hospital That Treated First US Ebola Patient: 'We Made Mistakes'

Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas, the hospital that treated the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the US, has for the first time apologized for mishandling the case.

Early reports indicated that the hospital sent Thomas Eric Duncan home with antibiotics the first time he sought care, even though he mentioned that he was recently in Liberia, one of the countries at the epicenter of the worst Ebola outbreak in history. By the time Duncan returned to the emergency room, his symptoms had worsened considerably and many more people had been exposed to the virus.
Read more:


Thursday, October 16, 2014


The previous generation learned a lesson that is now being "unlearned" in the present generation. The goal is obvious.  The Military Industrial Complex is determined to convince Americans that waging senseless - endless wars is the way to keep America strong; protect ourselves from the unseen enemy if you will. 

For many years after the Vietnam War, we enjoyed the "Vietnam syndrome," in which US presidents hesitated to launch substantial military attacks on other countries. They feared intense opposition akin to the powerful movement that helped bring an end to the war in Vietnam. But in 1991, at the end of the Gulf War, George H.W. Bush declared, "By God, we've kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!"

With George W. Bush's wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and Barack Obama's drone wars in seven Muslim-majority countries and his escalating wars in Iraq and Syria, we have apparently moved beyond the Vietnam syndrome. By planting disinformation in the public realm, the government has built support for its recent wars, as it did with Vietnam.

Now the Pentagon is planning to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War by launching a $30 million program to rewrite and sanitize its history. Replete with a fancy interactive website, the effort is aimed at teaching schoolchildren a revisionist history of the war. The program is focused on honoring our service members who fought in Vietnam. But conspicuously absent from the website is a description of the antiwar movement, at the heart of which was the GI movement.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


To see how death panels work you just need the right combination;

A person with a deadly and expensive to treat illness.

A person of "color" (not white).

A hospital in a state (Texas) with the worse healthcare in the nation.

DALLAS—On the night of Sept. 25, a Liberian immigrant walked into the emergency room at a modern metropolitan hospital here, whose polished terrazzo floors and sleek tropical-fish tank were a world removed from the rundown clinics of his home country.

Barely a week before, Thomas Eric Duncan had excitedly arrived in Texas from Liberia’s Ebola-ravaged capital of Monrovia, with plans to reunite with his fiancĂ©e, Louise Troh, and their college-age son, Karsiah. Now his abdomen was hurting, and so was his head. He felt feverish, he told relatives.

So Ms. Troh took him to the ER at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, and asked for assistance. Eventually, a nurse asked Mr. Duncan what ailed him. When questioned if he had been around anyone who was ill, Mr. Duncan replied that he hadn’t, according to the hospital. (More: Texas Health-Care Worker Tests Positive for Ebola, Says Health Department)

Medical staff requested Mr. Duncan provide proof of health insurance, a Social Security number and a driver’s license, and Ms. Troh responded in her thickly accented English that he had none of those things, that he was from Africa, according to a relative who spoke with her afterward. He was sent home that evening with a prescription for $40 in antibiotics, she said.
Thirteen days later, Mr. Duncan was dead, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., and the first known casualty from the disease in this country, a case that has triggered tough questions about whether America is fully prepared for the potential spread of a West African outbreak that has killed more than 4,000 people, according to the World Health Organization.


The US "for profit" healthcare system is not equipped to handle situations that are considered "high maintenance" and "low profit margin" which is evidenced by the slipshod way  these facilities are handling the Ebola soon-to-be epidemic.

A growing number of health experts are drawing a line between this gross unpreparedness and the United States' for-profit healthcare system, under which there is minimal oversight and no uniformity between healthcare providers.

Combine this national problem with the state-wide healthcare system in Texas and you have a full blown disaster in the making;

Of all 50 U.S. states, Texas has the worst health care system, the highest percentage of uninsured citizens and the most prostate cancer deaths, according to a federal report on health care quality released this week.

The 2011 State Snapshots report ranked states on a 100-point system based upon measurements of 155 different key indicators of health care quality, and Texas scored the lowest with just 31.61 points.

The report, produced by an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, compiled data from the National Healthcare Quality & Disparities Reports, which track a wide range of health care indicators like cancer rates, elderly care, early childhood care, infant mortality, disease prevention and deaths.

More than 6.3 million Texans, which includes 1.2 million children, do not have health insurance, according to the Texas Medical Association — a fact that undoubtedly led to the state coming in last place overall, thanks to the financial drag uninsured people place on hospitals.

Monday, October 13, 2014


The only power an average American has is their vote.  And when they use it there is nothing that can stand in the way of the power it unleashes.

There is a small but powerful group of influential people who expend vast resources to prevent this and will do whatever it takes to make it NOT happen. They only way they can succeed is by preventing as many Americans as possible from voting this November.

If they succeed then what Bob Herbert wrote about will prove to be our Manifest Destiny.

Losing Our Way by Bob Herbert

From longtime New York Times columnist Bob Herbert comes a wrenching portrayal of ordinary Americans struggling for survival in a nation that has lost its way

In his eighteen years as an opinion columnist for The New York Times, Herbert championed the working poor and the middle class. After filing his last column in 2011, he set off on a journey across the country to report on Americans who were being left behind in an economy that has never fully recovered from the Great Recession. The portraits of those he encountered fuel his new book, Losing Our Way. Herbert’s combination of heartrending reporting and keen political analysis is the purest expression since the Occupy movement of the plight of the 99 percent.
The individuals and families who are paying the price of America’s bad choices in recent decades form the book’s emotional center: an exhausted high school student in Brooklyn who works the overnight shift in a factory at minimum wage to help pay her family’s rent; a twenty-four-year-old soldier from Peachtree City, Georgia, who loses both legs in a misguided, mismanaged, seemingly endless war; a young woman, only recently engaged, who suffers devastating injuries in a tragic bridge collapse in Minneapolis; and a group of parents in Pittsburgh who courageously fight back against the politicians who decimated funding for their children’s schools.
Herbert reminds us of a time in America when unemployment was low, wages and profits were high, and the nation’s wealth, by current standards, was distributed much more equitably. Today, the gap between the wealthy and everyone else has widened dramatically, the nation’s physical plant is crumbling, and the inability to find decent work is a plague on a generation. Herbert traces where we went wrong and spotlights the drastic and dangerous shift of political power from ordinary Americans to the corporate and financial elite. Hope for America, he argues, lies in a concerted push to redress that political imbalance. Searing and unforgettable, Losing Our Way ultimately inspires with its faith in ordinary citizens to take back their true political power and reclaim the American dream.


A football crazed parent will argue that football builds character, cooperation, and prepares you for success in adult life.

What you don't hear much about is what else this violent prone, mindless, brain damaging so-called sport foments.

The mother of a sophomore player told The News that her son had suffered abuses similar to those detailed in an early report from, that the older players inserted fingers into the rectums of a line of freshmen players, forced to lie face down on the floor of the locker room. According to the allegations, they then placed the fingers in the mouths of their victims.

Now, we'll hear that this is an isolated incident and should not be considered the norm so what's the big deal?  Maybe these people should take into account that violence breeds violence and then it's only a matter of whether it's on the filed or in the locker room. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Peterson said he disciplined his son similar to how he had been punished as a child and attributes what he refers to as his "success" to how he was punished. 

Using this twisted logic one could justify dragging a woman out of a cave and clubbing her because our prehistoric ancestors  did. 

Corporal punishment is legal in every U.S. state. Should Peterson's case go to trial, legal experts say, the final determination of what is reasonable discipline will be based on the standards found in the local community — and Texas law offers no definition of what that is. It says the use of non-deadly force against someone younger than 18 is justified if a parent or guardian "reasonably believes the force is necessary to discipline the child or to safeguard or promote his welfare."

The felony child injury charge stems from when Peterson disciplined his 4-year-old son in May with a tree branch or "switch," resulting in injury.

Peterson, 29, said the injuries his son suffered were unintentional and that he was using the same disciplinary methods that his father used on him when Peterson was growing up.

But a grand jury concluded Peterson "recklessly or by criminal negligence" caused injuries, breaking the law and exceeding community standards for corporal punishment. He faces up to two years in state jail and a fine if convicted, but also could get probation and/or agree to undergo counseling on child discipline.

The Texas Attorney General's Office notes that belts and brushes "are accepted by many as legitimate disciplinary tools, but "electrical or phone cords, boards, yardsticks, ropes, shoes, and wires are likely to be considered instruments of abuse."

F. Scott McCown, director of the Children's Rights Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law that represents children in abuse and neglect cases, said people can have abstract debates about what is reasonable but they tend to come to a consensus when looking at a specific case.

Some of the factors that tend to be used to decide whether corporal punishment was unreasonable include whether a child needed medical attention and if the disciplining left visible marks and bruises, McCown said. According to court records, Peterson's son suffered cuts, marks and bruising to his thighs, back and on one of his testicles.

If Peterson's case goes to trial, prosecutors and defense attorneys will be picking jurors in a county with conservative beliefs and one that has also banned corporal punishment in its largest school district. E. Tay Bond, an attorney who has worked in Montgomery County for 16 years, said the potential jury pool in the Peterson case will likely not be economically or racially diverse.

Because jurors in are summoned via email, the jury pool will be made up of individuals with a higher socio-economic status, who tend to be more conservative, Bond said.

"People will still discipline their children ... As long as it's appropriate and not excessive, it's not a crime," Wilke said.

It's unclear how many cases involving abuse claims stemming from corporal punishment are dealt with either by Texas courts or CPS. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, CPS's parent agency, doesn't keep statistics detailing whether an abuse case involved corporal punishment. McCown said that in most of the cases his clinic has handled, usually parents do not end up going to jail.

The range of punishment for injury to a child charge depends on the defendant's intent. Peterson is accused of injuring his son through his reckless actions, while Dill was accused of intentionally or knowingly causing injury to his child. He faced up to 10 years in prison. 

Is Football Safe for Children? League of Denial (Part 7 of 9)

Saturday, October 4, 2014


Anyone wondering why America is always looking to get into a war need look no further than Wall Street and the 1% who invest and cash in on the Military Industrial Complex; yep - the one Ike warned us us about a half century ago.

Who foots the bill? You get one guess; YOU! The average middle and low income American taxpayer who will again be conned (scared) into believing that the boogeyman is back.

Social Security? Medicare? Food Stamps? Infrastructure? Affordable Healthcare? Education? Minimum Wage? The VA?

Sorry; can't afford it. Only 1 entitlement program can be funded; you know the one that feeds the 1%.

As the U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against ISIS continue, it remains unclear exactly how the complex mission against the Islamic State group will unfold. But what is evident already as strikes escalate is that U.S. defense companies are already cashing in.

Just days after the strikes in Syria began on Sept. 23, shares of Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics all reached record prices.

"President [Barack] Obama has predicted that this air campaign could last for a long time, so that signals billions of dollars in additional sales of munitions, of spare parts and potentially also of aircraft," said defense consultant Loren Thompson.

But more than an increase in stock prices, the widening conflict, which started in Iraq in August before moving to Syria just one week ago, not only brings new orders to the defense industry, it can also help pay for new technology and even help stave off the closure of production lines and keep military hardware from being cut.

“One of the things that can help a new capability breakthrough is an operational stressor, like a major air campaign,” Mark Gunzinger, a retired Air Force colonel and former deputy assistant secretary of defense who is now at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told Fortune.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


There is nothing freakish or accidental about these deaths. These kids  are willfully and knowingly put into harms way by obviously reckless and dimwitted people who believe that entertaining themselves is worth the risk.

The death of a 16-year-old varsity high school football player after an on-the-field collision during a game was "a freak accident," the school's superintendent said at a news conference Thursday.

Steven Cohen, the superintendent of Shoreham-Wading River School District on Long Island's North Shore, offered his sympathies to the family of Tom Cutinella, who played linebacker and guard and was in his junior year.

"I think it was the result of a typical football play. It was just a freak accident," Cohen said. "You know, the game involves contact, and it was the result of a freak football play."

An average of 12 high school and college football players die every year from football-related accidents, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. Concerns about hard hits have grown in recent years, and concussion management has gained renewed attention for the roughly 1 million boys who play high school football.

Two other deaths have come just recently.

Cornerback Demario Harris Jr. of Charles Henderson High School in Troy, Alabama, died Sunday after collapsing on the field Friday following a tackle.

According to, coach Brad McCoy said a neurologist told him that the player had ruptured an aneurysm in his brain. However, according to the report, the player's father, Demario Harris Sr., said in a Facebook post that the teen had suffered a brain hemorrhage caused by a hit in the game.

"He may have had a pre-existing condition, but there is no way to tell now," the post read, according to

Linebacker Isaiah Langston of Rolesville High School in North Carolina died after collapsing during Friday's pregame warm-ups, family and the school district said Monday. Although he did not know the official cause of death, the player's brother Aijalon Langston told ABC 11 that it was related to a blood clot in the brain.