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Amerigeddon: Are You Ready For The Chaos That Will Ensue When The Power Grid Is Brought Down?

Electromagnetic Pulse Attack - Creative CommonsWhat would America look like with absolutely no electricity?  Could you survive in a world with no lights, no cell phones, no computers, no televisions, no ATMs, no cash registers and no refrigerators?  Such a world is not as far away as you might think.  A very powerful nuclear blast directly over the center of the continental United States could potentially fry electronic equipment from coast to coast, and it would take months or even years to fully restore power.  During that time, the entire country would be plunged into chaos and experts tell us that tens of millions of Americans would die.  But even if we are never attacked by a nuclear weapon in that manner, scientists assure us that it is inevitable that a massive electromagnetic blast from the sun will produce a similar result someday anyway.  In fact, back in 1859 a giant solar storm that came to be known as “the Carrington Event” fried telegraph machines all across North America and Europe.  If a similar event happened today, life as we know it would be brought to an abrupt halt, and chaos would ensue from coast to coast.

In two days, a bold new movie will be released in theaters that portrays what the aftermath of such an event would look like in this country.  It is entitled “AMERIGEDDON”, and it was directed by Mike Norris, the son of Chuck Norris.  You can view the official trailer for the film right here

I wish that more movies like this would come out, because most of what Hollywood produces these days is absolute garbage.  Our entertainment-addicted society needs films like this that educate and inform, and I hope that as many Americans as possible get a chance to see it because this threat is very real.

In 2001, Congress established a commission to study the EMP threat, and those on the commission examined this problem quite extensively for a number of years.  In 2008, members of the commission reported to Congress that they had come to the conclusion that the consequences of such an event would be absolutely catastrophic for this nation

In 2008, the commission warned that “a high altitude nuclear explosion is one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences.” If such an attack were to cause a nationwide blackout lasting as long as a year, up to 90 percent of the American people could die due to starvation, disease and societal collapse.

Personally, I think that the 90 percent figure is too high.

But what if it was just 50 percent of all Americans that died?  We are still talking about the most horrific disaster in U.S. history by a very wide margin, and it would essentially mean the end of the Republic.

So what has Congress done about this threat?

Next to nothing, and this has many of the experts quite upset.

One of them is former CIA analyst Peter Vincent Pry.  He now serves as the executive director of the EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security, and he recently had the following to say about the threat that we are potentially facing

Ours is an electronic civilization.  Electricity runs everything, including the economy.  Electricity sustains the lives of 320 million Americans.

Terrorists could inflict “The greatest injury on the greatest number” by attacking the national electric grid and blacking-out all the life sustaining critical infrastructures.

A nationwide blackout would, in effect, turn the “off switch” for the United States.  A terror blackout that lasts one year could kill so many people and cause such chaos that the lights might never come back on.

No less than two congressional commissions, the EMP Commission (2008) and the Strategic Posture Commission (2009) and numerous independent studies, including the recent books Lights Out and Blackout Wars, warn that an attack on the grid is an existential threat. A terror blackout could have such catastrophic consequences as to challenge the continued existence of our civilization.

And remember, no attack is even necessary in order for the power grid to be brought down.  In fact, most Americans have absolutely no idea that our planet barely missed being fried by a massive EMP burst from the sun in both 2012 and 2013.  Those two “near misses” were both extremely close, and if either of them had hit us directly you would not be reading this article today.

So please help spread the word about this new movie.  Here is some more information about it that comes directly from the official website

AMERIGEDDON, coming to theaters nationwide May 13, 2016, has been described as “the movie the establishment doesn’t want you to see.” Showing what happens when a not-so-future U.S. government conspires with the United Nations to stage an attack on the energy grid, AMERIGEDDON depicts a country ruled by martial law in which citizens are stripped of their constitutional rights and their guns. A group of patriots fight back and rescue the country from slipping into irreversible chaos.

AMERIGEDDON’s release in an election year is not coincidental. The film illustrates a dystopian future all patriots must guard against and is a call to action to preserve the Second Amendment and stop executive rule by fiat. Director Mike Norris, son of Chuck Norris, asks for like-minded Americans to support the film.

“The fact that a recent poll showed a majority of Americans are enraged with the federal government points to a frenzy of unrest with the dictatorial way in which our country has been run,” said Norris. “My family has long been involved in protecting the rights of Americans. We are concerned about the future and and see this film as a call to action. We urge people to join us in theaters and show Hollywood and politicians that true patriots will fight for their rights and want to see their values represented on-screen.”

A collaboration between Norris and entrepreneur and writer Gary Heavin, AMERIGEDDON seizes on fact-based threats and asks the ultimate question, “What happens when government turns on the people it’s supposed to protect?”

The sad thing is that the experts tell us that we could go a long way toward protecting our power grid from an EMP event for just a few billion dollars.

But there is absolutely no urgency among our leaders to get this done.  They would rather waste our tax dollars in thousands of other ways.

And unfortunately, there is not much urgency to address this threat among ordinary Americans either.  There are a variety of reasons for this, but I would like to touch on one.  There seems to be a belief among many Americans that God would never allow something this bad to happen to us since we are so special.  Of course this is complete nonsense, and anyone that doubts this should check out my new article in which I point out the parallels between modern America and Nazi Germany.

The executive producer of AMERIGEDDON, Gary Heavin, also pointed out the absurdity of this belief during a recent appearance on one of the biggest Christian shows in America

Over the years, I have repeatedly written about this EMP threat.  There is a chapter in “Get Prepared Now” about it, and I extensively warn that a day of reckoning is coming for America in my new book.

Sadly, most people are not listening.

Most people just seem to believe that everything is going to be okay somehow.

But as far as this EMP threat is concerned, the experts assure us that it is absolutely certain that a massive burst from the sun will inevitably fry our electronics someday even if we are never attacked with a nuclear device.  In addition, sources in the intelligence community are telling us that foreign hackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and that someday they could bring down our power grid with just the push of a button.  This is something that Ted Koppel is so alarmed about that he wrote an entire book about it.

So I don’t know why Barack Obama doesn’t want to do anything about this.

And I certainly can’t figure out why Congress doesn’t want to do anything about this.

It is almost as if a cloud of insanity has descended upon the land and nobody can think straight.

Let us hope that our leaders wake up and start addressing this threat, because someday we will most certainly have to deal with an event of this nature.

It is just a matter of time.

Electromagnetic Pulse: One Day We Will Wake Up In An America Without Electricity And Society Will Totally Break Down

Electromagnetic Pulse - Public DomainWhat would you do if the power grid went down and never came back up?  One of these days, and it could be a lot sooner than most people think, we will all wake up in a country without electricity.  And considering how utterly dependent we have become on technology, that is a very frightening scenario to consider.  How would Americans react if nothing worked?  Just imagine a world where everything electronic is dead.  I am talking about lights, cell phones, computers, televisions, ATMs, heating and cooling systems, credit card readers, gas pumps, cash registers, refrigerators, hospital equipment etc.  When the power goes out for a few hours, that can be a major inconvenience, but what if it went out all over the nation and it didn’t come back on for months or even years?  This is one of the greatest potential threats that the United States is facing, and yet very few people are even talking about it.

An electromagnetic pulse attack could potentially send our nation back to the 1800s in a single moment, but very few of us are equipped to handle life without technology.  Tech guru John McAfee recently wrote an article in which he expressed his belief that 90 percent of the population would be dead within 2 years of such an attack

Experts agree that an all out cyber attack, beginning with an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack on our electronic infrastructure, would wipe out 90% of the human population of this country within two years of the attack. That means the death of 270 million people within 24 months after the attack.

You may think that is an unreasonably high estimate, but it turns out that it is the exact same number that the EMP Commission used in their report to Congress back in 2008

What would a successful EMP attack look like? The EMP Commission, in 2008, estimated that within 12 months of a nationwide blackout, up to 90% of the U.S. population could possibly perish from starvation, disease and societal breakdown.

In 2009 the congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, whose co-chairmen were former Secretaries of Defense William Perry and James Schlesinger, concurred with the findings of the EMP Commission and urged immediate action to protect the electric grid. Studies by the National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the National Intelligence Council reached similar conclusions.

So what has Barack Obama done to protect us from such an attack?

Absolutely nothing.

But there are others in the government that are very, very concerned about this threat.  For example, NORAD recently moved back into Cheyenne Mountain, and the potential for an EMP attack was given as the primary reason for the move

The Pentagon is moving the headquarters for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) back into Cheyenne Mountain near Colorado Springs, Colo., a decade after having largely vacated the site.

Why the return? Because the enormous bunker in the hollowed-out mountain, built to survive a Cold War-era nuclear conflict, can also resist an electromagnetic-pulse attack, or EMP. America’s military planners recognize the growing threat from an EMP attack by bad actors around the world, in particular North Korea and Iran.

An EMP strike, most likely from the detonation of a nuclear weapon in space, would destroy unprotected military and civilian electronics nationwide, blacking out the electric grid and other critical infrastructure for months or years. The staggering human cost of such a catastrophic attack is not difficult to imagine.

For years, most experts have assumed that an EMP attack would be conducted by exploding at least one nuclear weapon high up in our atmosphere.  And that could definitely happen someday.  But now governments all over the world are working on other ways to deliver an EMP strike, and many of them do not involve nuclear weapons at all.

The U.S. government is among those that have been doing this kind of research.  The U.S. Air Force now reportedly has the capability to conduct an EMP assault against individual buildings or power stations.  The following comes from the Daily Mail

For years, scientists have been attempting to create such a weapon as part of Champ, or the Counter-electronics High-powered microwave Advanced Missile Project.

Now, the US Air Force claims it has advanced the technology, and says it can deploy it using the stealthy Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM).

There are fears a well targeted attack could knock out multiple power stations.

‘This technology marks a new era in modern-day warfare,’ said Keith Coleman, CHAMP program manager for Boeing Phantom Works.

And we also know that Russia, China, Iran and North Korea have also been developing EMP weapons.  This next excerpt comes from DefenseNews

The possibility of man-made EMP events has grown in tandem with the technological sophistication of America’s adversaries. It is widely known that both Russia and China already have this capability, and both countries have carried out serious work relating to the generation of EMP in recent years as part of their respective military modernization programs.

Now, rogue states Iran and North Korea may not be that far behind. Iran, for example, is known to have simulated a nuclear EMP attack several years ago using short-range missiles launched from a freighter. North Korea, meanwhile, has acquired the blueprints to build an EMP warhead, and in July of 2013, a North Korean freighter made it all the way to the Gulf of Mexico with two nuclear capable missiles in its hold.

Why are these other nations developing these technologies?

To use them against us someday of course.

Many are particularly concerned about what Iran has been doing.  In a piece for an Israeli news source, author Dr. Peter Vincent Pry explained that Iranian military documents actually discuss conducting such an attack against the United States…

Iranian military documents describe such a scenario–including a recently translated Iranian military textbook that endorses nuclear EMP attack against the United States.

Thus, Iran with a small number of nuclear missiles can by EMP attack threaten the existence of modernity and be the death knell for Western principles of international law, humanism and freedom.  For the first time in history, a failed state like Iran could destroy the most successful societies on Earth and convert an evolving benign world order into world chaos.

And it wouldn’t take much to completely disrupt electricity generation in America.  In a previous article, I discussed a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report which made the following jaw dropping statement…

“Destroy nine interconnection substations and a transformer manufacturer and the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer.”

Are you starting to get the picture?

We are far more vulnerable than most people realize.

And even if we are never attacked by an EMP weapon, scientists tell us that it is inevitable that a massive solar storm will produce a similar result someday anyway.  Back in 1859, a massive solar storm that came to be known as “the Carrington Event” fried telegraph machines all over Europe and North America.

NASA says that there is a 12 percent chance that a similar solar storm will hit us within the next ten years, and if that happens the consequences will be absolutely catastrophic…

NASA is warning that there’s a 12 percent chance an extreme solar storm will hit Earth in the next decade, sending out massive shock waves that would knock out grids across the world.

The economic impact of this doomsday scenario could exceed $2 trillion — or 20 times the cost of Hurricane Katrina, according to the National Academy of Sciences.

I don’t know why more people aren’t concerned about this.  There are things that the federal government could do to harden our electrical grid, but they aren’t doing them.

This is a foreseeable danger, but our “leaders” are not taking it seriously.

And even if nobody ever purposely attacks us, scientists insist that it is only a matter of time before the sun unleashes an electromagnetic pulse that fries our electronics.  In fact, we have had some very close calls in recent years.  The following is an excerpt from a book that I co-authored with Barbara Fix entitled “Get Prepared Now“…

Most people have absolutely no idea that the Earth barely missed being fried by a massive EMP burst from the sun in 2012 and in 2013. And earlier in 2014 there was another huge solar storm which would have caused tremendous damage if it had been directed at our planet. If any of those storms would have directly hit us, the result would have been catastrophic. Electrical transformers would have burst into flames, power grids would have gone down and much of our technology would have been fried. In essence, life as we know it would have ceased to exist – at least for a time. These kinds of solar storms have hit the Earth many times before, and experts tell us that it is inevitable that it will happen again.

It amazes me that such a small percentage of the population is taking this threat seriously.

An electromagnetic pulse could bring down our entire society in a single moment at any time, and all of the experts assure us that it will happen someday.

But our politicians are just sitting on their hands and most Americans mock the idea that we need to be concerned about this.

So what do you think?  Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…

It’s Official: Americans R Stupid

Brain - Public DomainAs Americans, we tend to be pretty full of ourselves, and this is especially true of our young people.  But do we really have reason for such pride?  According to a shocking new report from the Educational Testing Service, Americans between the ages of 20 and 34 are way behind young adults in other industrialized nations when it comes to literacy, mathematics and technological proficiency.  Even though more Americans than ever are going to college, we continue to fall farther and farther behind intellectually.  So what does this say about us?  Sadly, the truth is that Americans are stupid.  Our education system is an abysmal failure, and our young people spend most of their free time staring at the television, their computers or their mobile devices.  And until we are honest with ourselves about this, our intellectual decline is going to get even worse.

According to this new report from the Educational Testing Service, at this point American Millennials that have a four year college degree are essentially on the same intellectual level as young adults in Japan, Finland and the Netherlands that only have a high school degree

Americans born after 1980 are lagging their peers in countries ranging from Australia to Estonia, according to a new report from researchers at the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The study looked at scores for literacy and numeracy from a test called the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, which tested the abilities of people in 22 countries.

The results are sobering, with dire implications for America. It hints that students may be falling behind not only in their early educational years but at the college level. Even though more Americans between the ages of 20 to 34 are achieving higher levels of education, they’re still falling behind their cohorts in other countries. In Japan, Finland and the Netherlands, young adults with only a high school degree scored on par with American Millennials holding four-year college degrees, the report said.

How in the world is that possible?

I can tell you how that is possible – our colleges are a joke.  But more on that in a moment.

Out of 22 countries, the report from the Educational Testing Service found that Americans were dead last in tech proficiency.  We were also dead last in numeracy and only two countries performed worse than us when it came to literacy proficiency

Half of American Millennials score below the minimum standard of literacy proficiency. Only two countries scored worse by that measure: Italy (60 percent) and Spain (59 percent). The results were even worse for numeracy, with almost two-thirds of American Millennials failing to meet the minimum standard for understanding and working with numbers. That placed U.S. Millennials dead last for numeracy among the study’s 22 developed countries.

It is in this type of environment that Coca-Cola can be marketed to Americans as “a healthy snack“.

As I mentioned above, our system of education is one of the biggest culprits.  From the first grade all the way through post-graduate education, the quality of education that our young people are receiving is absolutely pathetic.  In a previous article, I highlighted some statistics from USA Today about the declining state of college education in America…

-“After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.”

-“Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago”

-“35% of students report spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone.”

-“50% said they never took a class in a typical semester where they wrote more than 20 pages”

-“32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.”

I have sat in many of these kinds of college courses.  It doesn’t take much brain power to pass the multiple choice tests that most college professors give these days.  The truth is that if you fail out of college you really, really have to try hard.

In another previous article I shared some examples of real courses that have been taught at U.S. universities in recent years…

-“What If Harry Potter Is Real?

-“Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame

-“Philosophy And Star Trek

-“Learning From YouTube

-“How To Watch Television

-“Oh, Look, a Chicken!

This is a national crisis.  Parents should be screaming bloody murder about the quality of the education that their children are receiving.  But because very few of them actually know what is going on, they just continue to write out huge tuition checks all the time believing that their kids are being prepared for the real world.

To show how “dumbed down” we have become, I want to share with you a copy of an eighth grade exam from 1912 that was donated to the Bullitt County History Museum in Kentucky.

Would eighth grade students be able to pass such an exam today?

Would college students?

As you look over this exam from 1912, ask yourself how you would do on it…

Eighth-Grade-Exam

In addition, I find it very interesting that the reading level of the State of the Union addresses delivered by our presidents has steadily declined since the inception of this nation.

And it should be no surprise that Barack Obama’s State of the Union addresses have been some of the dumbest of all.

But could it be possible that I am being too harsh?

After all, scientists are now discovering that our diminishing intellectual capabilities are actually the consequence of natural processes.

For example, a Stanford University biology professor named Gerald R. Crabtree has published two papers in which he detailed his conclusion that humans have been getting dumber for thousands of years

Are humans becoming smarter or more stupid? Comparing our modern lives and technology with that of any preceding generation, one might think we are becoming increasingly smarter. But, in two papers published in Trends in Genetics, Gerald R. Crabtree of Stanford University claims that we are losing mental capacity and have been doing so for 2,000–6,000 years! The reason, Crabtree concludes, is due to genetic mutations—which are the backbone of neo-Darwinian evolution.

Why is this happening?

Professor Crabtree believes that this loss of intellectual capability is due to the accumulation of errors in our genes

Based on data produced by the 1000 Genomes Project Consortium and two recent papers in Nature, Crabtree estimates in the first article that, in the past 3,000 years (approximately 120 generations), about 5,000 new mutations have occurred in the genes governing our intellectual ability. He claims most of these mutations will have no effect, while about 2–5 percent are deleterious and “a vanishingly small fraction will increase fitness.” Crabtree bases his conclusion that humankind is losing mental capacity on the ratio between the deleterious and the beneficial mutations.

Our DNA is mutating, and it has been for thousands of years.  And no, those mutations are not helping us.  Each one of us has tens of thousands of errors in our DNA that we have inherited, and we will add even more errors which we will pass on to future generations.

Given enough time, many scientists believe that humanity would eventually degenerate into a bunch of gibbering idiots incapable of rational thought.

Or could it be possible that a large segment of the population has already arrived at that state?

Feel free to tell us what you think by posting a comment below…

 

Oxford Professors: Robots And Computers Could Take Half Our Jobs Within The Next 20 Years

Robot 2013What are human workers going to do when super-intelligent robots and computers are better than us at doing everything?  That is one of the questions that a new study by Dr. Carl Frey and Dr. Michael Osborne of Oxford University sought to address, and what they concluded was that 47 percent of all U.S. jobs could be automated within the next 20 years.  Considering the fact that the percentage of the U.S. population that is employed is already far lower than it was a decade ago, it is frightening to think that tens of millions more jobs could disappear due to technological advances over the next couple of decades.  I have written extensively about how we are already losing millions of jobs to super cheap labor on the other side of the globe.  What are middle class families going to do as technology also takes away huge numbers of our jobs at an ever increasing pace?  We live during a period of history when knowledge is increasing an an exponential rate.  In the past, when human workers were displaced by technology it also created new kinds of jobs that the world had never seen before.  But what happens when the day arrives when computers and robots can do almost everything more cheaply and more efficiently than humans can?

For employers, there are a whole host of advantages that come with replacing human workers with technology.  Robots and computers never complain, they never get tired, they never need vacation, they never show up late, they never waste time on Facebook, they don’t need any health benefits and there are a vast array of rules, regulations and taxes that you must deal with when you hire a human worker.

If you could get a task done more cheaply and more efficiently by replacing a human worker with technology, why wouldn’t you want to do it?

We are already starting to see this happen on a mass scale, and according to Dr. Frey and Dr. Osborne, close to half of all of our jobs could be automated within the next 20 years.  A recent article posted on smartplanet.com described how this process might play out…

The automation of half the nation’s jobs will occur in two phases, the study says: The first wave will affect (and is affecting) jobs in transportation/logistics, production labor, administrative support, services, sales, and construction. The second wave — propelled by artificial intelligence — will affect jobs in management, science, engineering, and the arts.

Just as interesting as the study is the response provided by Gary Reber, founder and executive director of For Economic Justice, who argues that owners of the means of production will actually thrive as such a shift takes place. Those who rely on 9-to-5 standard employment arrangements for subsistence are likely to  suffer the most in the automation wave. As Reber put it: ‘Full employment is not an objective of businesses. Companies strive to keep labor input and other costs at a minimum.”

This is one of the reasons why the U.S. economy will never produce enough jobs for everyone ever again.

If technology can outperform humans, it is only rational for companies to replace humans with technology.

And this is even starting to happen in fields that require very high levels of education.

Just look at what is happening in the medical field.  Today, millions of people turn to websites such as WebMD for their medical needs, but this is only just the beginning.  Check out this excerpt from a recent Bloomberg article entitled “Doctor Robot Will See You Shortly“…

Johnson & Johnson proposes to replace anesthesiologists during simple procedures such as colonoscopies — not with nurse practitioners, but with machines. Sedasys, which dispenses propofol and monitors a patient automatically, was recently approved for use in healthy adult patients who have no particular risk of complications. Johnson & Johnson will lease the machines to doctor’s offices for $150 per procedure — cleverly set well below the $600 to $2,000 that anesthesiologists usually charge.

Certainly we will always need doctors.

But many of the tasks that doctors once performed will now be performed by technology.

For example, have you heard about “OnStar for the Body” yet?  Some of these new “wearable technologies” are more than a little bit creepy…

Smart, cheaper and point-of-care sensors, such as those being developed for the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE, will further enable the ‘Digital Checkup’ from anywhere. The world of ‘Quantified Self’ and ‘Quantified Health’ will lead to a new generation of wearable technologies partnered with Artificial Intelligence that will help decipher and make this information actionable.

And this ‘actionability’ is key. We hear the term Big Data used in various contexts; when applied to health information it will likely be the smart integration of massive data sets from the ‘Internet of things’ with the small data about your activity, mood, and other information. When properly filtered, this data set can give insights on a macro level – population health – and micro – ‘OnStar for the Body‘ with a personalized ‘check engine light’ to help identify individual problems before they further develop into expensive, difficult-to-treat or fatal conditions.

We are also seeing humans being replaced in other fields as well.  For instance, DARPA has developed a robot named “Atlas” that it hopes will be used in “disaster-response scenarios”…

DARPA’s Virtual Robotics Challenge entered a new phase in July, when Atlas — a 6-foot-2-inch, 330-pound robot developed by Boston Dynamics — was introduced to seven teams tasked with training it for disaster-response scenarios. The end goal? “Supervised autonomy” so that Atlas and its successors can step into situations too dangerous for humans.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want “Terminator” to show up when my family is in the middle of a disaster, but this is where things are headed.

And as technology increases, a lot of good paying middle class jobs are going to be vulnerable.  In fact, one study of employment data that examined statistics from 20 countries found that “almost all the jobs disappearing are in industries that pay middle-class wages, ranging from $38,000 to $68,000.”

Those are exactly the sort of “breadwinner jobs” that middle class families rely upon.

And of course working class jobs are being replaced by technology as well.  According to MIT Technology Review, a $22,000 humanoid robot named Baxter has been developed that can easily be programmed to do jobs that have never been automated before…

Brooks’s company, Rethink Robotics, says the robot will spark a “renaissance” in American manufacturing by helping small companies compete against low-wage offshore labor. Baxter will do that by accelerating a trend of factory efficiency that’s eliminated more jobs in the U.S. than overseas competition has. Of the approximately 5.8 million manufacturing jobs the U.S. lost between 2000 and 2010, according to McKinsey Global Institute, two-thirds were lost because of higher productivity and only 20 percent moved to places like China, Mexico, or Thailand.

The ultimate goal is for robots like Baxter to take over more complex tasks, such as fitting together parts on an electronics assembly line. “A couple more ticks of Moore’s Law and you’ve got automation that works more cheaply than Chinese labor does,” Andrew McAfee, an MIT researcher, predicted last year at a conference in Tucson, Arizona, where Baxter was discussed.

So what are human workers going to do when robots are making all of our products?

That is a very good question.

Incredibly, robots are now even replacing human factory workers in China.  The following comes from a recent TechCrunch article

Foxconn has been planning to buy 1 million robots to replace human workers and it looks like that change, albeit gradual, is about to start.

The company is allegedly paying $25,000 per robot – about three times a worker’s average salary – and they will replace humans in assembly tasks. The plans have been in place for a while – I spoke to Foxconn reps about this a year ago – and it makes perfect sense. Humans are messy, they want more money, and having a half-a-million of them in one factory is a recipe for unrest. But what happens after the halls are clear of careful young men and women and instead full of whirring robots?

So who benefits from all of this?

Those that own the big corporations that dominate our economy certainly benefit.  They aren’t going to need to hire as many of us to work for them, and they are going to make even bigger profits than before.

Meanwhile, the gap between the wealthy and the poor will grow even larger.  The only thing that most people have to offer in the economic marketplace is their labor, and the demand for that labor is decreasing with each passing day.

What do you think will happen to society when most of us are no longer “needed”?

Could we be headed for big trouble as a society?

And if you think that your job could “never be automated”, you might want to think again.

We are rapidly getting to the point where even driving will be automated

Brace yourself. In a few years, your car will be able to drop you off at the door of a shopping center or airport terminal, go park itself and return when summoned with a smartphone app. Audi demonstrated such a system at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.

At your next dinner party, ask for a show of hands of the people who’d want that.

Everybody?

Anybody want a car that doesn’t crash? At this month’s Frankfurt auto show, mega-auto supplier Continental announced a partnership with IBM to help bring autonomous vehicles to market, with “zero accidents” as a possible result. Volvo has promised to injury-proof its cars by 2020. GM and Carnegie Mellon aim to develop autonomous technology to eliminate car accidents.

So what will happen to the 3.1 million Americans that drive trucks for a living once all driving is automated?

What will happen to the millions of other Americans that drive buses, taxis and limos once all driving is automated?

That is something to think about.

And researchers are even trying to create computers that “seem human” when you have a conversation with them…

On 14 September, researchers will gathered in Derry, Northern Ireland, to demonstrate their latest efforts. If any of them has created a machine that successfully mimics a human, they will leave $100,000 richer.

The money is being put up by Hugh Loebner, a New York based philanthropist. His goal, he says, is total unemployment for all human beings throughout the world. He wants robots to do all the work. And the first step towards that is apparently to develop computers that seem human when you chat to them.

So if your job involves a telephone, you are in danger of being phased out.  In fact, this transition is already starting to happen

IPsoft is a young company started by Chetan Dube, a former mathematics professor at New York University. He reckons that artificial intelligence can take over most of the routine information-technology and business-process tasks currently performed by workers in offshore locations. “The last decade was about replacing labour with cheaper labour,” says Mr Dube. “The coming decade will be about replacing cheaper labour with autonomics.”

IPsoft’s Eliza, a “virtual service-desk employee” that learns on the job and can reply to e-mail, answer phone calls and hold conversations, is being tested by several multinationals. At one American media giant she is answering 62,000 calls a month from the firm’s information-technology staff. She is able to solve two out of three of the problems without human help. At IPsoft’s media-industry customer Eliza has replaced India’s Tata Consulting Services.

We truly are entering an unprecedented time in human history.

Instead of robots violently taking over society like so many movies have portrayed, they are slowly starting to “replace” us instead.  A recent Wired article described what this transition might look like as it picks up steam…

First, machines will consolidate their gains in already-automated industries. After robots finish replacing assembly line workers, they will replace the workers in warehouses. Speedy bots able to lift 150 pounds all day long will retrieve boxes, sort them, and load them onto trucks. Fruit and vegetable picking will continue to be robotized until no humans pick outside of specialty farms. Pharmacies will feature a single pill-dispensing robot in the back while the pharmacists focus on patient consulting. Next, the more dexterous chores of cleaning in offices and schools will be taken over by late-night robots, starting with easy-to-do floors and windows and eventually getting to toilets. The highway legs of long-haul trucking routes will be driven by robots embedded in truck cabs.

All the while, robots will continue their migration into white-collar work. We already have artificial intelligence in many of our machines; we just don’t call it that. Witness one piece of software by Narrative Science (profiled in issue 20.05) that can write newspaper stories about sports games directly from the games’ stats or generate a synopsis of a company’s stock performance each day from bits of text around the web. Any job dealing with reams of paperwork will be taken over by bots, including much of medicine. Even those areas of medicine not defined by paperwork, such as surgery, are becoming increasingly robotic. The rote tasks of any information-intensive job can be automated. It doesn’t matter if you are a doctor, lawyer, architect, reporter, or even programmer: The robot takeover will be epic.

Are you ready for the “robot takeover”?

The world of employment is never going to be the same again.  Technology has already surpassed human workers in a whole host of arenas, and this transition is only going to become more rapid in the years ahead.

So what does this mean for the rest of us?  Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

They Actually Expect Us To Have Faith In These Financial Markets After This Week?

NASDAQ MarketSite TV studio - Photo by Luis Villa del CampoWhat in the world is happening to our financial markets?  Trading on the Nasdaq was halted on Thursday for more than 3 hours, and the only formal explanation that we got was that it was a “technical issue”.  On Tuesday, Goldman Sachs made thousands of “erroneous trades” that are now being canceled.  If those trades had not been canceled, it could have cost Goldman “hundreds of millions of dollars” according to the Wall Street Journal.  How nice for them that they get a “do over”.  When Knight Capital made a similar “trading error”, they were not so fortunate.  Our financial system has become completely and totally dependent on computers, and that means that it is extremely vulnerable.  After what we have witnessed this week, how can they actually expect us to have faith in these financial markets?  And what happens if these “technical issues” get even worse?

The stoppage on the Nasdaq on Thursday was unprecedented.  Trading in literally thousands of stocks and options was halted.  Big names like Apple, Netflix, Intel and Facebook were affected.

As of right now, officials are not telling us what caused the “technical issue”, but there are rumblings that hacking was involved.

And the Nasdaq would hardly be the first exchange to be hacked.  In fact, according to NBC News, about half of all the security exchanges around the world were hacked last year.

USA Today is suggesting that a group of Iranian hackers known as “Cyber Fighters of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam” may be responsible for what happened to the Nasdaq.  Apparently they have been quite active since last September…

The first wave of denial-of-service attacks attributed to the Cyber Fighters of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam began last September and lasted about six weeks. Knocked offline for various periods of time were Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and PNC Bank.

The second wave commenced in December and lasted seven weeks, knocking out mid-tier banks and credit unions.

And a third wave of high-powered denial-of-service attacks commenced in March targeting credit card companies and financial brokerages.

But of course the Iranians have not been the only ones hacking financial institutions.  According to Gartner banking security analyst Avivah Litan, some “profit-minded hackers” have had quite a bit of success attacking U.S. banks…

More recently, a copycat group of profit-minded hackers has conducted denial-of-service attacks against certain U.S. banks as a smoke screen to divert attention while they execute an Ocean’s 11-style wire transfer fraud.

Litan earlier this month blogged about that caper. These bad guys, she says, set into motion sophisticated denial-of-service attacks that overwhelmed pretty sturdy bank network security. While tech staff labored manually to get the banks’ websites back into service, the crooks scrambled behind the scenes to extract funds from a bank employee’s privileged account, which they had gained access to.

Instead of getting into one customer account at a time, the criminals used the employee’s account to control the master payment switch for wire transfers, and moved as much money as they could from as many accounts as possible for as long as possible, Litan reports.

“Considerable financial damage has resulted from these attacks,” says Litan.

However, let’s certainly not blame all of the “technical issues” in the financial markets on hackers.  What happened to Goldman Sachs on Tuesday appears to be very much their own fault

A programming error at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. caused unintended stock-option orders to flood American exchanges this morning, roiling markets and shaking confidence in electronic trading infrastructure.

An internal system that Goldman Sachs uses to help prepare to meet market demand for equity options inadvertently produced orders with inaccurate price limits and sent them to exchanges, said a person familiar with the situation, who asked not to be named because the information is private. The size of the losses depends on which trades are canceled, the person said. Some have already been voided, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Of course if those trades had made hundreds of millions of dollars for Goldman they would have been allowed to stand.

But because Goldman was about to lose hundreds of millions of dollars authorities worked very rapidly to start “breaking” those trades.

This is just another example that shows how much of a joke our financial system has become.

Wall Street has become a massive computerized casino, and at some point this fraudulent house of cards is going to come crashing down hard.

The seeds for all of this were planted back in the late 1990s.  The Glass-Steagall Act was repealed and the big banks started to go hog wild.

And according to an absolutely shocking memo uncovered by investigative reporter Greg Palast, a certain U.S. Treasury official was at the heart of the plot to make this possible…

When a little birdie dropped the End Game memo through my window, its content was so explosive, so sick and plain evil, I just couldn’t believe it.

The Memo confirmed every conspiracy freak’s fantasy: that in the late 1990s, the top US Treasury officials secretly conspired with a small cabal of banker big-shots to rip apart financial regulation across the planet. When you see 26.3 percent unemployment in Spain, desperation and hunger in Greece, riots in Indonesia and Detroit in bankruptcy, go back to this End Game memo, the genesis of the blood and tears.

The Treasury official playing the bankers’ secret End Game was Larry Summers. Today, Summers is Barack Obama’s leading choice for Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, the world’s central bank.

If Summers and U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin had not been working so hard for the benefit of the big banks, we might not be facing a quadrillion dollar derivatives bubble today…

The year was 1997. US Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin was pushing hard to de-regulate banks. That required, first, repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act to dismantle the barrier between commercial banks and investment banks. It was like replacing bank vaults with roulette wheels.

Second, the banks wanted the right to play a new high-risk game: “derivatives trading”. JP Morgan alone would soon carry $88 trillion of these pseudo-securities on its books as “assets”.

Deputy Treasury Secretary Summers (soon to replace Rubin as Secretary) body-blocked any attempt to control derivatives.

But what was the use of turning US banks into derivatives casinos if money would flee to nations with safer banking laws?

The answer conceived by the Big Bank Five: eliminate controls on banks in every nation on the planet — in one single move. It was as brilliant as it was insanely dangerous.

To learn more about how they used the WTO to transform the global financial system into a gigantic casino, head on over and read the rest of Palast’s outstanding article right here.

And you know what is truly frightening?

Larry Summers appears to be Barack Obama’s top choice to become the next chairman of the Federal Reserve.

That statement should send chills up your spine.

The truth is that Larry Summers should not even be running a Dairy Queen, much less the most powerful financial institution on the planet.

If Larry Summers becomes the next head of the Federal Reserve, it will be an unmitigated disaster.

But it looks like that is exactly what we are going to get.

We are rapidly heading toward the next major global financial crisis, and on top of everything else we will probably have Larry Summers running things soon.

What a nightmare.

If You Are A Blue Collar Worker In America You Are An Endangered Species

Have you ever heard of the dodo bird?  Once upon a time, dodo birds lived on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.  But if you go there today you won’t find any because they are extinct.  Well, if you are a blue collar worker in America today it looks like you are headed for a similar fate.  Blue collar workers are truly becoming an “endangered species” in the United States.  In the old days, the balance of power between business owners and labor was more even because they both needed each other.  But today that has all changed.  Thanks to robotics, automation and computers there is simply not as much of a need for physical laborers anymore and nothing is going to reverse that trend.  Big employers will continue to look for ways to replace men with machines, and there is nothing wrong with that.  But there is another major trend that is also destroying blue collar jobs in America that we should do something about.  Right now, it is perfectly legal for big corporations to shut down manufacturing facilities in the United States and send the jobs over to nations on the other side of the globe where it is legal to pay slave labor wages and where there are barely any regulations.  As you will see later on this article, this has been the biggest reason for the shocking blue collar job losses in America over the past decade.  The big corporations don’t care that you need to pay the mortgage and put food on the table for your families.  All they care about it the bottom line, and if dramatic changes are not made soon, the number of blue collar jobs leaving the United States will continue to increase.

Once upon a time, almost everyone who wanted a job in America could get one.  If you go back a few decades, you will find that about 95 percent of all men between the ages of 25 and 54 had a job.  Today that figure is struggling to stay above 80 percent.

If you are a blue collar worker in America, you are simply not valued.  Your bosses are constantly trying to think of ways to replace you or send your job overseas.

According to Reuters, 23.7 million American workers are either unemployed or underemployed right now.  The more “blue collar” you are, the more likely you are to be unemployed.  The following chart that shows the unemployment rate during 2010 broken down by level of education comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics….

If you are an unskilled worker in America today, you simply are not needed.  Yes, once upon a time nearly anyone could go out and get a factory job, but those days are over.  Neither major political party seems the least bit interested in trying to keep manufacturing jobs in America.

Back in the year 2000, more than 20 percent of all jobs in America were manufacturing jobs.  Today, about 5 percent of all jobs in America are manufacturing jobs.

To have that huge of a shift in a little over a decade is absolutely mind blowing.

Many Americans had been hoping that Barack Obama would stand up for the working man like he promised to do.  But just like so many of Obama’s other promises, that one was totally worthless as well.

The Obama administration has been pushing hard for even more “free trade” deals that will allow big corporations to ship even more of our jobs out of the country.  The Obama administration simply does not value blue collar jobs at all.  In fact, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk is running around telling the press that there are lots of things that “we don’t want to make in America” anymore.

If you are a blue collar worker, Barack Obama does not care about you.

He never cared about you.

In fact, the vast majority of the politicians in both major political parties do not care about you.

What they do care about is winning elections and taking care of the big donors that keep helping them win elections.

Many of those donors are systematically shipping huge numbers of our jobs overseas.

In addition, now that labor has become a “global commodity”, wages for the jobs that remain in America are being steadily driven lower.

A recent White House reported entitled “Investing in America: Building an Economy That Lasts” actually bragged that our trade policies have driven wages in America down.  The following chart is from that report….

We were told that the “one world economy” would be great for America, but the truth is that it has only been great for the giant corporations.  For the average working man, it has been a disaster.

But we should have all seen this coming.  It didn’t take a genius to figure out what was going to happen once you put American workers into the same labor pool as slave laborers on the other side of the world.  After all, what greedy corporate executive really wants to pay U.S. workers ten to twenty times as much compensation just because it is the “right” thing to do?

Today, formerly great cities all over America are being transformed into hellholes while shiny, new industrial cities are popping up all over China.

For example, a couple of decades ago the Chinese city of Shenzhen was a sleepy little fishing town.

In 2012, it is a teeming metropolis of over 13 million people.

Foxconn (the builder of iPhones, iPads and many other products that we buy) runs a factory in Shenzhen that employs over 400,000 people.  Most of those people work for about a dollar an hour.

A recent article posted on Business Insider described the incredibly long hours and the nightmarish working conditions that those workers must endure.  The following is a brief excerpt from that article….

A Chinese working “hour” is 60 minutes–unlike an American “hour,” which generally includes breaks for Facebook, the bathroom, a phone call, and some conversation. The official work day in China is 8 hours long, but the standard shift is 12 hours. Generally, these shifts extend to 14-16 hours, especially when there’s a hot new gadget to build.

At Foxconn, they don’t really care about the health and safety of the workers.  Workers are expected to do the same repetitive tasks as rapidly as they can for as long as they can.  When their bodies break down, they are fired….

Some workers can no longer work because their hands have been destroyed by doing the same thing hundreds of thousands of times over many years (mega-carpal-tunnel). This could have been avoided if the workers had merely shifted jobs. Once the workers’ hands no longer work, obviously, they’re canned.

But the Obama administration insists that allowing big corporations to ship our jobs over to countries with working conditions like that is “good for the economy”.

Well, it might be good for the profits of the largest corporations, but it is a total nightmare for the rest of us.  Just consider the following stats….

*The United States has lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobs per month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

*Between December 2000 and December 2010, 38 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Ohio were lost, 42 percent of the manufacturing jobs in North Carolina were lost and 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Michigan were lost.

*According to U.S. Representative Betty Sutton, America has lost an average of 15 manufacturing facilities a day over the last 10 years.  During 2010 it got even worse.  Last year, an average of 23 manufacturing facilities a day shut down in the United States.

*In all, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have shut down since 2001.

*According to one study, between 1969 and 2009 the median wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 dropped by 27 percent after you account for inflation.

*According to Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University, 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades.

Are you starting to get the picture?

If you are a blue collar worker that cannot find a job, it is not because you have failed as a human being.

Rather, the truth is that you cannot find a job because of the failed trade policies of the federal government.

We are experiencing the bitter fruit of a “one world economy”.  Globalization was never intended to make the lives of American workers better, and now many are finally waking up and realizing this.

Hopefully, as Americans wake up on these issues they will fight to turn this nation in a more positive direction.

Unfortunately, way too many Americans are giving up hope completely.  The following comes from a recent article in the Guardian….

The year 2011 will be remembered as the time when many ever-optimistic Americans began to give up hope. President John F Kennedy once said that a rising tide lifts all boats. But now, in the receding tide, Americans are beginning to see not only that those with taller masts had been lifted far higher, but also that many of the smaller boats had been dashed to pieces in their wake.

As I have written about so many times, we are watching the middle class in America be systematically destroyed.

The economy is not getting better.  There may be moments when the economy seems like it is improving, but the reality is that we are mired in a nightmarish long-term decline.  If you are not yet convinced of this, please see this article and this article.

Even those running our economy are saying that things are not going to be getting much better any time soon.

For example, the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Charles Evans, recently admitted that the employment picture is not going to be much brighter than it is now by the end of 2012.  He recently said that “at the end of the year, we’re not going to be very different from 8.5 percent unemployment.”

And remember – history has shown us that most pronouncements by Federal Reserve officials are usually far too optimistic.

If you are a blue collar worker in America, there is simply not too much to be optimistic about right now.

You might want to think about how you and your family are going to survive without any work.

The millions of jobs that have been sent overseas are not coming back.  Even if you still have a decent job, now is the time to be developing a side business or developing other alternative streams of income.

What you don’t want to do is to just sit there and hope that somehow things will “magically” turn around if we just vote in the “right” politician.

If you want to get a really good idea of what is really going on with the U.S. economy right now, just go tour some of the formerly great industrial cities in the “Rust Belt”.

In Cuyahoga County, Ohio one out of every five houses is sitting vacant.  It is not that those homes are not needed – it is just that there are not nearly enough people with good jobs available to buy up all of the foreclosures.

So thousands of perfectly good houses are being torn down.  The following comes from a recent CBS News report by Scott Pelley….

Across America, recession-fueled foreclosures and plummeting home values have left countless properties abandoned and vulnerable to looting. As Scott Pelley reports, the problem has gotten so bad in Cleveland, Ohio, that county officials have demolished more than 1,000 homes this year – and plan to demolish 20,000 more – rather than let the blight spread and render nearby homes worthless.

Can you imagine that?

20,000 homes being demolished in one county alone?

Of course Detroit is in even worse shape than Cleveland.  If you can believe it, the median price of a home in Detroit is now just $6000.

For much more on all of this, please read my recent article entitled “Formerly Great Cities All Over America Are Turning Into Open, Festering Sores“.

It would be great if I could tell you that hope is just around the corner, but it is not.  The plight of the blue collar worker in America is going to get worse and worse.

But just because blue collar workers in America are an endangered species does not mean that you have to be a victim.

We should all seek to become less dependent on the system.

If you are completely and totally dependent on having a “job” (just over broke), then you have put yourself in a very vulnerable position.

That job could disappear at any moment.

Over the next few years, the number of good jobs is going to continue to decrease.  Things are going to be really tough.  But those that have prepared and that have tried to become more independent are going to be in much better shape than those that have not.

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