But academic economists are. And with very few exceptions, they did not predict the crisis, either. Some warned of a housing bubble, but almost none foresaw the resulting cataclysm. An entire field of experts dedicated to studying the behavior of markets failed to anticipate what may prove to be the biggest economic collapse of our lifetime. And now that we are in the middle of it, many frankly admit that they are not sure how to prevent things from getting worse.
President-elect Barack Obama's administration needs to monitor war spending much more closely than the current White House has, according to a new study that criticizes President Bush's approach to funding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars -- a bill that is projected to approach nearly $1 trillion next year.
Even with declining troop numbers in Iraq, the direct price tag of the two wars could grow as high as $1.7 trillion by 2018, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments reported last week. The defense think tank's figure does not include potentially hundreds of billions more in indirect economic and social costs, such as higher oil prices and lost wages.
The war in Iraq alone has already cost more in inflation-adjusted dollars than every other U.S. war except World War II, the CSBA found.
TVNL Comment: The war was started in order to loot this nation. The same people that privatized much of the military also profit from the private military complex of corporations. They weakened the military and made them dependent on private companies. Then they started the wars. It was always about the money for some of them.
The news that President Bush's war on terror will soon have cost the U.S. taxpayer $1 trillion - and counting - is unlikely to spread much Christmas cheer in these tough economic times. A trio of recent reports - none by the Bush Administration - suggests that sometime early in the Obama presidency, spending on the wars started since 9/11 will pass the trillion-dollar mark. Even after adjusting for inflation, that's four times more than America spent fighting World War I, and more than 10 times the cost of 1991's Persian Gulf War (90 percent of which was paid for by U.S. allies). The war on terror looks set to surpass the cost the Korean and Vietnam wars combined, to be topped only by World War II's price tag of $3.5 trillion.
Unfortunately, the only person who may have been able to verify that the voting machines in major states were rigged, Michael Connell, is now dead due to a mysterious airplane "accident".
States from Rhode Island to California are being forced to curtail Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor, as they struggle to cope with the deteriorating economy.
With revenue falling at the same time that more people are losing their jobs and private health coverage, states already have pared their programs and many are looking at deeper cuts for the coming year. Already, 19 states -- including Maryland and Virginia -- and the District of Columbia have lowered payments to hospitals and nursing homes, eliminated coverage for some treatments, and forced some recipients out of the insurance program completely.
What may be the nation's largest spill of coal ash lay thick and largely untouched over hundreds of acres of land and waterways Wednesday after a dam broke this week, as officials and environmentalists argued over its potential toxicity.
Federal studies long have shown coal ash to contain significant quantities of heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and selenium, which can cause cancer and neurological problems. But with no official word on the dangers of the sludge in Tennessee, displaced residents spent Christmas Eve worried about their health and their property and wondering what to do.
The spill reignited a debate over whether the federal government should regulate coal ash as a hazardous material. Similar ponds and mounds of ash exist at hundreds of coal plants nationwide.
As President Bush's term comes to a close, the United States has the world's largest economy and its most powerful military. Yet its global influence is in decline.
The United States emerged from the Cold War a solitary superpower whose political and economic leverage often enabled it to impose its will on others. Now, America usually needs to build alliances -- and often finds that other powers aren't willing to go along. In the 1990s, America exerted leadership in all the remote corners of the globe, from the southern cone of South America to Central Asia. Now, the United States has largely left the field in many regions, leaving others to step forward.
The research arm of the US Department of Justice is working on two portable non-lethal weapons that inflict pain from a distance using beams of laser light or microwaves, with the intention of putting them into the hands of police to subdue suspects.
The two devices under development by the civilian National Institute of Justice both build on knowledge gained from the Pentagon's controversial Active Denial System (ADS) - first demonstrated in public last year, which uses a 2-metre beam of short microwaves to heat up the outer layer of a person's skin and cause pain.
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