FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day March 20th through 23rd 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

Always remember you are unique, just like everyone else.

 

Buy Your Epic Pass

I don’t endorse many products on FOD, but this one is too good to pass up!  If you’re a skier or a rider than you owe it to yourself to look into the Epic Pass.  For $99 it gives Active/Retired/Dependent service members unlimited, unrestricted access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Whistler Blackcomb, Breckenridge, Park City, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Stowe, Wilmot, Afton Alps, and Mt. Brighton for the 2018-19 season, as well as Perisher in Australia for the 2019 ski season.  And they’re looking to add more resorts for next year as well.  There is also a good deal for Veterans and their Dependents at $499 for the same benefits.  You also get discounts on food on and off the mountain, lodging and ski rentals as well.  There are also free lift access during the summer at most resorts for hiking or biking adventures.  Also included are six ski with a friend/buddy tickets which give some pretty good deals for friends as well.

 

Congress Races to Pass $1.3T Defense-Friendly Omnibus Bill And Avoid Shutdown

Defense News is reporting the sweeping $1.3 trillion spending bill that congressional leaders unveiled Wednesday includes $654.6 billion for the Pentagon. But it’s unclear whether Congress can pass the proposal without shutting down the government.  Lawmakers touted the bill as providing the biggest year-over-year increase in defense funding in 15 years. Pentagon appropriations include $589.5 billion in the base budget and $65.2 billion in the overseas contingency operations (OCO) budget — an increase of $61.1 billion over the 2017 enacted level, when combined with other previously enacted funding.  The bill surpasses President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 request for the Pentagon by $15.5 billion.  Leadership and the heads of the appropriations committees struck a deal on a spending bill to fund the Pentagon and 11 other departments through the end of the fiscal year. The hard-won deal also involved funding to address the opioid crisis and strengthen’s the country’s gun background check system, but it does not include a fix for expiring protections for young immigrants.  Hardline House GOP conservatives, however, have signaled they will vote against the bill because negotiations have been too friendly to Democrats. Their non-support forces the GOP to rely on Democrats for the votes to pass it.  The agreement increases a cap on spending in the last two months of the fiscal year from 20 percent to 25 percent. It also changes the reprogramming threshold from $15 million to $20 million, and modifies the guidelines for realignments between readiness budget line items from requiring prior approval to written notification.  “These flexibility changes will allow for smarter execution of the $230 billion in base and OCO funding provided for the operation and maintenance accounts by avoiding the ‘use it or lose it’ dilemma and allowing more timely execution of readiness line items that have been affected by fact-of-life changes or emergent requirements,” a bill summary reads.  The defense bill includes $705.8 million for Israeli cooperative programs. A separate State and Foreign Operations bill includes $9 billion in base and OCO funding for international security assistance, with $3.1 billion for Israel, $1.3 billion for Egypt and $1.5 billion for Jordan.  For Navy shipbuilding programs, there is $23.8 billion to procure 14 Navy ships, including funding for one carrier replacement, two DDG-51 guided missile destroyers, two Virginia-class submarines, three littoral combat ships; one expeditionary sea base; one expeditionary fast transport; one amphibious ship replacement; one fleet oiler; one towing, salvage, and rescue ship, and one oceanographic survey ship.  For aviation, there is $10.2 billion for 90 F-35 aircraft; $1.8 billion for 24 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft; $1.6 billion for 30 new build and 50 remanufactured Apache helicopters; $1.1 billion for 56 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters; $225 million for 20 MQ-1 Gray Eagle unmanned aerial vehicles; $1.7 billion for 10 P-8A Poseidon aircraft; $1.3 billion for 14 V-22 aircraft; $2.9 billion for 18 KC-46 tanker aircraft; $2.4 billion for 25 C/HC/KC/MC-130J aircraft, and $103 million for A-10 wing replacements.  For space, there is $1.4 billion for three evolved expendable launch vehicles and $675 million for two wideband gap-filler satellites. Air Force space programs net $800 million, with $100 million above the budget request for space launch vehicle and engine development activities.  There’s also $9.5 billion for the Missile Defense Agency, bringing the FY18 total for MDA to more than $11.3 billion when combined with the previously passed supplemental, according to the summary.

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day March 20th through 23rd 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day March 13th through 19th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

If you want someone who will listen to you every time, do everything you tell them to do, and always be there for you for better or for worse, get a dog.

 

New Russian Sanctions

The US Treasury Department issued tough sanctions on Thursday against Russian entities and individuals for what it said were “ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia.”  Among the institutions targeted in the new sanctions for election meddling were Russia’s top intelligence services; the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). Also included was the Internet Research Agency, which was recently indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for interfering in the 2016 US presidential election.  The FSB is being sanctioned for the use of cyber tools in targeting US officials “including cyber security, diplomatic, military, and White House personnel.”  The GRU, as well as a number of its top officials, is being sanctioned for its direct involvement in “interfering in the 2016 US election through cyber-enabled activities.” The Treasury also says that the GRU was “directly responsible” for the June 2017 NotPetya cyberattack on European businesses.  The Internet Research Agency and 13 individuals connected to it are being sanctioned for using fake identities online as well as posting thousands of online ads in an effort to sow confusion among US voters.  Sanctions also target a number of individuals for ongoing attempts to hack the US energy grid.  US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says, “The administration is confronting and countering malign Russian cyber activity, including their attempted interference in US elections, destructive cyber-attacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure.”  The move is seen as significant as the Trump administration and, above all, President Donald Trump himself, have been slow to criticize Russia for election meddling, fearing it may undermine the legitimacy of his victory over Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton.  Russian reaction: Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that although Moscow was calm about the sanctions, it had already begun “to prepare a response.” He also accused the US of timing the sanctions announcement to coincide with this weekend’s Russian presidential elections, saying, “It is tied to US internal disorder, tied of course to our electoral calendar.” And there was an election in Russia over this past weekend.  The 65-year-old head of state, Vladimir Putin, waited for a long time until he announced he would again stand as a presidential candidate. According to some observers, Putin was toying with people’s fears that the “father of the nation” might not run for the presidency again. Then came the move which had to be expected. Putin chose a symbolic venue to announce that he would run for the post: the legendary Russian GAZ car factory in Nizhny Novgorod, in front of workers who supported him when he said he’d like to throw his hat into the ring again.  Putin is not fond of conventional campaigning, including TV debates. He prefers to present himself as a savior of rare animal species, or as a brave huntsman or fisherman. Opinion polls seem to prove that his approach is successful. With approval rates between 75 and 83 percent, Putin is considered to be the most popular politician in Russia. However, another part of the truth is that the Kremlin — since Putin came to power in 2000 — has been marginalizing free and critical media, and putting Russian opposition under pressure, thereby nipping any real alternative in the bud.  Putin didn’t show much respect for those people who officially announced his candidacy on December 26. He didn’t show up for his own nomination. Even so, he submitted his records to the central election commission in person — as an independent candidate.  And he won by over 65% in this ceremonial election which in one news clip I saw actually showed an election official putting numerous ballots into a ballot box.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day March 13th through 19th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day March 15 through 17, 2017

Fireball’s Observation of the Day

Fireball’s Observation of the Day.  Did you know that in 2015, women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 80 percent of what men were paid, a gap of 20 percent? While the number has gone up one percentage point from 2014, the change isn’t statistically significant — because the increase is so small, mere tenths of a percent, it doesn’t amount to perceptible change. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the earnings ratio hasn’t had significant annual change since 2007. Since President John F. Kennedy
signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963, it has been illegal in the United States to pay men and women working in the same place different salaries for similar work.  But the pay gap has not gone away.  This is wrong.  Support equal pay for equal work!

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day March 15 through 17, 2017”