Army issuing more waivers for recruits who used marijuana

Army issuing more waivers for recruits who used marijuana (Source As more states lessen or eliminate marijuana penalties, the Army is granting hundreds of waivers to enlist people who used the drug in their youth — as long as they realize they can’t do so again in the military.

The number of waivers granted by the active-duty Army for marijuana use jumped to more than 500 this year from 191 in 2016. Three years ago, no such waivers were granted. The big increase is just one way officials are dealing with orders to expand the Army’s size. “Provided they understand that they cannot do that when they serve in the military, I will waive that all day long,” said Maj. Gen. Jeff Snow, head of the Army’s recruiting command.

The marijuana use exclusions represent about one-quarter of the total misconduct waivers the Army granted in the budget year that ended Sept. 30. They accounted for much of the 50 percent increase overall in recruits who needed a waiver for some type of misconduct. Snow said the figures probably will rise further as more states legalize or decriminalize marijuana.


American Drug Overdoses Hit Record High

American Drug Overdoses Hit Record High (Source Last year, drugs killed more Americans than the Vietnam War. Powerful painkillers such as fentanyl are contributing to a drug-overdose epidemic in the United States, according to a report released on October 27 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report specifically details how fentanyl is one of the strongest opioids on the market, considered 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin. It was responsible for over half of the approximately 20,000 opioid overdoses in America last year, yet is easily and legally obtainable with a prescription.

Drug abuse is rapidly growing to become one of the deadliest problems in this country. Overdosing has already outpaced deaths caused by motor vehicle crashes, suicide and homicide. Now, the White House is declaring opioid addiction to be a “public health emergency.”

An opioid is any chemical compound that affects opioid receptors in the brain. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl are engineered to mimic the effects of opiates, which are drugs derived from the dried latex of poppy flowers. Due to the ability of opioids to numb the sensation of pain, they are what manufacturers use to produce such pain-killing drugs as morphine, oxycodone and codeine.

Beginning in the late 1990s, doctors began prescribing painkillers to their patients with increasing frequency. Due to deliberate misrepresentation by drug companies, many people were unaware that the pills they were taking were forming addictive habits in their brains.

In the decades since this trend began, painkillers have become a fixture in society, with access becoming more and more readily available.

An independent review looking into the potential side effects of heavy opioid use has found that not only is this drug addictive but it also has other negative effects. They concluded that prolonged use of opioids can produce “profound analgesia” and “mood changes,” indicating effects both physical and psychological.

However, it is the addictive qualities that truly make these drugs dangerous. Ignorant of the addictive nature of their prescription, many have fallen for the promise of quick relief from discomfort. While stifling their pain on prescription meds, thousands of people are forming chemical dependencies. Once the cause of their pain has ended, the effects of the drugs linger. Unable to access the more powerful painkillers, many are abusing over-the-counter medication. Some even follow the path of addiction to street drugs like heroin, which produce the same euphoria-inducing high, only with much more severe side effects.


De-Dollarization Continues: China, Iran To Eliminate Greenback from Bilateral Trade

De-Dollarization Continues: China, Iran To Eliminate Greenback From Bilateral Trade (Source Zero Hedge)

The more Washington lashes out in anger at those who will not bow to the unipolar world order, the more the rest of the world fights back. As the launch of its Yuan/Gold-settled oil futures looms, China is escalating its de-dollarization scheme further by seeking a bilateral rial-yuan agreement with Iran.

The World Bank’s former chief economist wants to replace the US dollar with a single global super-currency, saying it will create a more stable global financial system.

“The dominance of the greenback is the root cause of global financial and economic crises,” Justin Yifu Lin told Bruegel, a Brussels-based policy-research think tank.

“The solution to this is to replace the national currency with a global currency.” The writing is on the wall for dollar hegemony. As Russian President Vladimir Putin said almost two months ago during the BRICs summit in Xiamen,

“Russia shares the BRICS countries’ concerns over the unfairness of the global financial and economic architecture, which does not give due regard to the growing weight of the emerging economies. We are ready to work together with our partners to promote international financial regulation reforms and to overcome the excessive domination of the limited number of reserve currencies.”

As Pepe Escobar recently noted, ‘to overcome the excessive domination of the limited number of reserve currencies’ is the politest way of stating what the BRICS have been discussing for years now; how to bypass the US dollar, as well as the petrodollar. Beijing is ready to step up the game. Soon China will launch a crude oil futures contract priced in yuan, and now, as RT reports, Tehran and Beijing are determined to find ways to avoid using the US dollar as a settlement currency in trade, according to a report by Iranian economic daily Financial Tribune.

Warnings of Financial Crash as Stock Markets Continues to Surge

Warnings of Financial Crash as Stock Markets Continue to Surge (Source

As stock markets continue to rise—Wall Street’s Dow Jones index hit a new record high yesterday following the US Senate’s passage of a massive tax cut bill—there are growing warnings that a new financial crisis is in the making.

In its quarterly review of financial conditions, issued on Sunday, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), sometimes known as the central bankers’ bank, said the situation bore similarities to that which prevailed in the lead-up to the 2008 crash. Increases in interest rates by the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England had failed to choke off risky investments, and financial bubbles were growing, it warned. Financial investors were basking in the “light and warmth” of improving global economic growth, subdued inflation and soaring stock markets, while underlying risks were increasing. Introducing the BIS review, Claudio Borio, the head of its monetary and economic department, said:

“The vulnerabilities that have built around the world during the long period of unusually low interest rates have not gone away. High debt levels, in both domestic and foreign currency, are still there. And so are frothy valuations.

“What’s more, the longer the risk-taking continues, the higher the underlying balance sheet exposure may become. Short-term calm comes at the expense of possible long-run turbulence.” Last Friday, Neil Woodford, described as one of Britain’s most high-profile investment fund managers, issued a warning even sharper than that of the BIS. In an interview with the Financial Times, he said stock markets around the world were in a “bubble” that, when it burst, could be “bigger and more dangerous” than some of the worst market crashes in history. This situation is the outcome of the policies adopted by the Federal Reserve and other major central banks of ultra-low interest rates and the pumping of trillions of dollars into the financial system, under the policy of quantitative easing introduced after 2008.

“Ten years on from the global financial crisis, we are witnessing the product of the biggest monetary policy experiment in history,” Woodford said. “Investors have forgotten about risk and this is playing out in inflated asset prices and inflated valuations. “Whether it’s bitcoin through $10,000, European junk bonds now yielding less than US treasuries, historic low levels of volatility or triple-leveraged exchange traded funds attracting gigantic inflows—there are so many lights flashing red that I am losing count.”


The billionares, lobbyists, and Christian extremists behind Trump’s Jerusalem move

The billionaires, lobbyists, and Christian extremists behind Trump’s Jerusalem move (Source

Hours after US President Donald Trump declared that the US would move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, US allies from Malaysia to Indonesia to France to Britain, condemned the move. The unpopular decision reverses decades of American policy in the Middle East. Americans in Turkey, Germany, and through the region were warned by local US embassies to be cautious after the decision, and American children in Jordon told not to go to school. At least 22 were wounded during protests in Gaza and the West Bank, and militant group Hamas called Trump’s announcement a “declaration of war. The decision is not popular at home, either. Trump’s own Department of Defense and Secretary of State tried to talk him out of it, according to multiple reports. Just 16% of Jewish-Americans favor unilaterally moving the embassy to Jerusalem, which Palestinians also claims as their capital, according to a survey of “American Jewish Opinion” taken in September. Overall, 63% of Americans oppose the move.

Trump’s decision is a “profound mistake,” Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J-Street, a “pro-peace, pro-Israel” lobbying group in Washington DC said Wednesday, echoing the words of French president Emmanuel Macron and many others.

So how did it happen? Trump’s decision is the latest example of how special interest groups, rather than US voters or long-term American diplomatic goals, can drive policy. Analysts say wealthy donors, influential lobby groups, and a far-right Christian fringe put pressure on a president eager to show he’s fulfilling his campaign promises.


North Korea Says Nuclear War on the Peninsula Is Inevitable

North Korea Says Nuclear War on the Peninsula Is Inevitable and an ‘Established Fact’ (Source Time)

North Korea says a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula has become a matter of when, not if, as it continued to lash out at a massive joint military exercise between the United States and South Korea involving hundreds of advanced warplanes. In comments attributed to an unnamed Foreign Ministry spokesman, North Korea also claimed high-ranked U.S. officials, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo, have further confirmed American intent for war with a series of “bellicose remarks.” Pompeo said that U.S. intelligence agencies believe North Korean leader Kim Jong Un doesn’t have a good idea about how tenuous his situation is domestically and internationally. The North’s spokesman said Pompeo provoked the country by “impudently criticizing our supreme leadership which is the heart of our people.”

“We do not wish for a war but shall not hide from it, and should the U.S. miscalculate our patience and light the fuse for a nuclear war, we will surely make the U.S. dearly pay the consequences with our mighty nuclear force which we have consistently strengthened,” the spokesman said.

The comments were carried by the official Korean Central News Agency late Wednesday, hours after the United States flew a B-1B supersonic bomber over South Korea as part of a massive combined aerial exercise involving hundreds of warplanes. North Korean propaganda is often filled with extreme claims and threats, and the spokesman’s comments were consistent with the tone of previous statements condemning Washington and Seoul.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the Guam-based bomber simulated land strikes at a military field near South Korea’s eastern coast during a drill with U.S. and South Korean fighter jets. “Through the drill, the South Korean and U.S. air forces displayed the allies’ strong intent and ability to punish North Korea when threatened by nuclear weapons and missiles,” the South Korean military said in a statement.

B-1Bs flyovers have become an increasingly familiar show of force to North Korea, which after three intercontinental ballistic missile tests has clearly moved closer toward building a nuclear arsenal that could viably target the U.S. mainland.

The Ten Commandments Are More Relevant Than Ever

The Ten Commandments Are More Relevant Than Ever (Source It is both compelling and tragic that a majority of Britons see building a relationship with God as irrelevant in our increasingly dangerous world. We need God now more than ever. “On Tuesday, the archbishop of Canterbury signaled support for a day of rest, tweeting that he was ‘encouraged’ by the chief rabbi’s campaign for people to spend time offline over the Sabbath,” wrote Rudgard. Merriam-Webster defines the word sabbath as: “the seventh day of the week observed from Friday evening to Saturday evening as a day of rest and worship by Jews and some Christians.” The complete wording of the Fourth Commandment comprises four verses in Exodus 20:8-11. It contains the most detailed instructions of any commandment. “While almost half of Catholics said they supported keeping the Sabbath day [Sunday] holy, just 29% of Protestants said they felt the same,” continued Rudgard. What does it say about society in general if people don’t see a need to worship God, even on the wrong day of the week? Religious fervor is in serious decline, not only in the British Isles, but in America too. “According to a usa Today poll, ‘60%of Americans cannot name five of the Ten Commandments,’” reported the Family Research Council website. “74% of Americans can name all three Stooges. Here is the sad news: Only 14% can accurately name all Ten Commandments.” Who’s to blame? Certainly, every person must bear his own shame for not wanting to worship God and keep His Ten Commandments. Yet Christian leaders are falling down on the job.


Pence: Trump ‘actively considering’ moving US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

Pence: Trump ‘actively considering’ moving US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem (Source Vice President Pence said Tuesday the Trump administration is “actively considering” moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, one of the president’s core campaign promises.

“President Trump is actively considering when and how to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Pence said during a speech in New York.  The vice president spoke at an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the United Nations vote that led to the creation of the state of Israel.   Pence vowed that “the days of Israel-bashing at the United Nations are over,” stressing the U.S. will stand up for the Jewish state “because her cause is our cause, her values are our values and her fight is our fight.” During the 2016 campaign, Trump repeatedly promised to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  Such a move would break with longstanding U.S. policy, which maintains the status of Jerusalem should be determined in peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.  Despite his pledge, Trump has not yet moved the embassy. The president signed a waiver in June to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv, saying he will eventually move the embassy but wants to keep alive the possibility of peace talks.


Russia Will Build Its Own Internet Directory, Citing US Information Warfare

Russia Will Build Its Own Internet Directory, Citing US Information Warfare (Source Defense One)

The Russian government will build an “independent internet” for use by itself, Brazil, India, China, and South Africa — the so-called BRICS nations — “in the event of global internet malfunctions,” the Russian news site RT reported on Tuesday. More precisely, Moscow intends to create an alternative to the global Domain Name System, or DNS, the directory that helps the browser on your computer or smartphone connect to the website server or other computer that you’re trying to reach. The Russians cited national security concerns, but the real reason may have more to do with Moscow’s own plans for offensive cyber operations.

According to RT, the Russian Security Council discussed the idea during its October meeting, saying that “the increased capabilities of western nations to conduct offensive operations in the informational space as well as the increased readiness to exercise these capabilities pose a serious threat to Russia’s security.” Russian President Vladimir Putin has set a date of August 1, 2018, to complete the alternative DNS. Why are they doing it? Russia, along with China, has long pushed for national governments to assert more control over the DNS and net governance in general, via the UN International Telecommunication Union, or ITTU. Then, as now, the Russian and Chinese arguments were rooted in national security. “Now, when China stands up and says, ‘We want a seat at the table of internet governance,’ the U.S. can say, ‘No. The internet should be stateless.’ They’re in a much stronger position to make that argument today than they were before,” Matthew Prince, co-founder of the company Cloudflare, told Defense One at the time. In a statement Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov framed Russia’s desire for an alternative DNS as essential to “protecting it from possible external influence.”

“We all know who the chief administrator of the global internet is. And due to its volatility, we have to think about how to ensure our national security,” Peskov said.


North Korea releases photos of new intercontinental ballistic

North Korea releases photos of new intercontinental ballistic missile (Source

North Korea released dozens of photos Thursday of the Hwasong-15, a new intercontinental ballistic missile it claims can reach any target in the continental United States.

Their general conclusion is that it’s bigger, more advanced and comes with a domestically made mobile launcher that will make it harder than ever to pre-emptively destroy.

The North’s new missile appears to be significantly bigger than the Hwasong-14 ICBM it tested twice in July. Note how it dwarfs North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who stands about 170 centimetres (5 feet 7 inches) tall.

In a tweet just after the photos were published, Michael Duitsman, a researcher at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California, said: “This is very big missile … And I don’t mean ‘Big for North Korea.’ Only a few countries can produce missiles of this size, and North Korea just joined the club.”