Robot Trucks Coming To US Army in 2019 

The US Army has recently stated that two transportation battalions will receive a fleet of autonomous leader-follower vehicles by summer 2019. This is a developing theme in the service of ‘take the man out of the machine’ has led to a new era of autonomous systems entering the modern battlefield as the Pentagon prepares for the next series of conflicts. 

“The Ground Vehicle Systems Center’s work with the Robotic Operating System – Military (ROS-M) covers a spectrum of autonomy and robotics, including small explosive ordnance disposal-assist robots that have been fielded as part of the advanced leader-follower capabilities that Soldiers in two transportation battalions will see by summer 2019,” said an article published in the January – March 2019 issue of Army AL&T magazine.

According to the Defence Blog, the ROS-M “uses an open-source approach and a widely accepted software framework with common government and industry software to develop military robotics and autonomous systems. The open-source approach allows developers to create software modules for different applications and enables integrators to build modular systems using the best software modules available for military autonomous systems.”

During the Afghan war, the Army consumed around 45 million gallons of fuel per month; the human cost was one death or injury for every 24 fuel convoys brought in. 

Pentagon figures show in 2013 alone, about 60% of US combat causalities were related to convoy resupply.

In the post IED era, removing the human element from the supply chain has been a significant focus for the Army and the primary driver for developing new autonomous systems.

Robotic vehicles can help the Army in multiple ways: “It eliminates the need for Soldiers to conduct mundane, dangerous or repetitive tasks that can be automated, and it increases the standoff distance between Soldiers and a threat, which can greatly enhance safety. Additionally, automation can increase logistics on convoy missions,” said the Defense Blog.

For example, two soldiers can operate an entire convoy that usually requires dozens of soldiers or about two per vehicle. This frees up soldiers to conduct other missions, and or tasks that involve defending the caravan from enemy forces.  

The Army is expected to procure the autonomous vehicles sometime in 2019. Robots will take the place of humans in ground-based resupply missions. These autonomous vehicles will be used for delivering ammunition, fuel, weapons, and casualty evacuation. 

Former FBI SSA Exposes McCabe & Mueller’s “Unethtical, Target & Destroy Coercion” Tactics, Defends Flynn

Via SaraCarter.com,

Former FBI Supervisory Special Agent Robyn Gritz has asked SaraACarter.com to post her letter to Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in support of her friend and colleague retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, who will be sentenced on Dec. 18. The Special Counsel’s Office has requested that Flynn not serve any jail time due to his cooperation with Robert Mueller’s office. Based on new information contained in a memorandum submitted to the court this week by Flynn’s attorney, Sullivan has ordered Mueller’s office to turn over all exculpatory evidence and government documents on Flynn’s case by mid-day Friday. Sullivan is also requesting any documentation regarding the first interviews conducted by former anti-Trump agent Peter Strzok and FBI Agent Joe Pientka -known by the FBI as 302s- which were found to be dated more than seven months after the interviews were conducted on Jan. 24, 2017, a violation of FBI policy, say current and former FBI officials familiar with the process. According to information contained in Flynn’s memorandum, the interviews were dated Aug. 22, 2017.

Read Gritz’s letter below… (emphasis added)

The Honorable  Emmet G. Sullivan. December 5, 2018   U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

333 Constitution Avenue, N.W.

Washington D.C. 20001

Re: Sentencing of Lt. General Michael T. Flynn (Ret.)

Dear Judge Sullivan:

I am submitting my letter directly since Mike Flynn’s attorney has refused to submit it as well as letters submitted by other individuals. I feel you need to hear from someone who was an FBI Special Agent who not only worked with Mike, but also has personally witnessed and reported unethical & sometimes illegal tactics used to coerce targets of investigations externally and internally.

About Myself and FBI Career

For 16 years, I proudly served the American people as a Special Agent working diligently on significant terrorism cases which earned noteworthy results and fostered substantial interagency cooperation.  Prior to serving in the FBI I was a Juvenile Probation Officer in Camden, NJ.  Currently, I am a Senior Information Security Metrics and Reporting Analyst with Discover Financial Services in the Chicago Metro area.  I have recently been named as a Senior Fellow to the London Center for Policy Research.

While in the FBI, I served as a Special Agent, Supervisory Special Agent, Assistant Inspector, Unit Chief, and a Senior Liaison Officer to the CIA. I served on the NSC’s Hostage and Personnel Working Group and brought numerous Americans out of captivity and was part of the interagency team to codify policies outlining the whole of government approach to hostage cases.

In November 2007, I was selected over 26 other candidates to become the Supervisory Special Agent, CT Extraterritorial Squad; Washington Field Office (WFO) in Washington, DC.  At WFO, I led a squad of experts in extraterritorial evidence collection, overseas investigations, operational security during terrorist attacks/events, and overseas criminal investigations. I coordinated and managed numerous high profile investigations (Blackwater, Chuckie Taylor, Robert Levinson, and other pivotal cases) comprised of teams from US and foreign intelligence, military, and law enforcement agencies. I was commended for displaying comprehensive leadership performance under pressure, extensive teamwork skills, while conducting critical investigative analysis within and outside the FBI.

In December 2009, I was promoted to GS-15 Unit Chief (UC) of the Executive Strategy Unit, Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate (WMDD).  While the UC, I codified the WMDD five-year strategic plan, formulated goals and objectives throughout the division, while translating the material into a directorate scorecard with cascading measurements reflecting functional and operational unit areas. This was the only time in Washington, DC when I did not work with of for McCabe.

From September to December 2010, I was selected as the FBI’s top candidate to represent the FBI, and the USG in a rigorous, intellectually stimulating; 12 week course for civilian government officials, military officers, and government academics at the George C. Marshall Center in Garmisch, Germany, Executive Program in Advanced Security Studies. The class was comprised of 141 participants from 43 countries.

I have received numerous recommendations and commendations for my professionalism, liaison and interpersonal ability and experienceAdditionally, I have been rated Excellent or Outstanding for my entire career, to include by Andrew McCabe when I was stationed at the Washington Field Office.  Further, other awards of note are: West Chester University 2005 Legacy of Leadership recipient, Honored with House of Representatives Citation for Exemplary record of Service, Leadership, and Achievements: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and Awarded with a framed Horn of Africa blood chit from the Department of Defense and Office of the DASD (POW/MPA/MIA) for my work in bringing Americans Out of captivity, “Patriot, Law Enforcement Warrior, and Friend.”

Length of Association with Flynn, McCabe, and Mueller

I met Michael Flynn in 2005, while working in the Counterterrorism Division (CTD) at FBI Headquarters (FBIHQ).

I met then Supervisory Special Agent Andrew McCabe, when he reported to CTD at FBIHQ, around the same time.  McCabe subsequently was the Assistant Section Chief over my unit, my Assistant Special Agent in Charge at the Washington Field Office, and the Assistant Director (AD) over CTD when I encountered the discrimination and McCabe spearheaded the retaliation personally (according to documentation) against me.

I have known both men for 12-13 years and worked directly with both throughout my career.  They are on the opposite spectrum of each other with regard to truthfulness, temperament, and ethics, both professionally and personally.

I regularly briefed former FBI Director and Special Prosecutor Mueller on controversial and complex cases and attended Deputies meetings at the White house with then Deputy Director Pistole. I got along with both and trusted both.  Watching what has been done to Mike and knowing someone on the 7th floor had to have notified Mueller of my situation (Pistole had retired), has been significantly distressing to me.

Lt.G. Michael T. Flynn:

Mike and I were counterparts on a DOJ-termed ground-breaking initiative which served as a model for future investigations, policies, legislation and FBI programs in the Terrorist Use of the Internet. For this multi-faceted and leading-edge joint operation, I was commended by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Gen. Keith Alexander (NSA Director), and LtG. Michael Flynn as well as others for leading the FBI’s pivotal participation in this dynamic and innovative interagency operation. I received two The National Intelligence Meritorious Unit Citation (NIMUC) I for my role in this operation.  The NIMUC is an award of the National Intelligence Awards Program, for contributions to the United States Intelligence Community.

Mick Flynn has consistently and candidly been honest and straightforward with me since the day I met him in 2005. He has been a mentor and someone I trust to give me frank advice when I ask for his opinion.  His caring nature has shown through especially when he saw me being torn apart by the FBI and he felt compelled to write a letter in support of me.  He further took the extra step to comment on my character in an NPR article and interview exposing the wrongdoings in my case and others who have stood up for truth and against discrimination/retaliation.  Senator Grassley also commented on my behalf.  NPR characterized this action against me as a “warning shot” to individuals who stood up to individuals such as McCabe.

The day after I resigned from the FBI, while I was crying, Mike reached out and congratulated me on my early retirement. I really needed to hear that from someone I respected so much.  His support for the last 13 years has been unparalleled and extremely valuable in helping me get through the trauma of betrayal, unethical behavior, illegal activity executed against me and to rebuild my life. Additionally, his support has helped my family in dealing with their painful emotions regarding my situation. My parents wanted me to pass on to you that they are blessed that I have had a compassionate and supportive individual on my side throughout this trying time.

Mike has been a respected leader by his peers and by FBI Agents and Analysts who have interacted with him. I personally feel he is the finest leader I have ever worked with or for in my career. Our continued friendship and subsequent friendship with his family has helped all of us cope with the stress a situation like this puts on individuals and families.

It is so very painful to watch an American hero, and my friend, torn apart like this.  His family has had to endure what no family should have to. I know this because of the damaging effect my case had on my parent’s health, finances, and emotional well-being. Mike and I both had to sell our houses due to legal fees, endured smear campaigns (mostly by the same individual, McCabe). I ended up being deemed homeless by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, was on public assistance and endured extensive health and emotional damage due to the retaliation. Mike kept in touch and kept me motivated.  He has always reached out to help me with whatever he could.

The Process is the Punishment

Thomas Fitton of Judicial Watch commented to me that the “Process is the punishment.”  This is the most accurate description I have heard regarding the time Mike has gone through with this process and the year and a half I was ostracized and idled before I resigned.  This process is one which many FBI employees, current, retired and former, feel was brought to the FBI by Mueller and he subsequently brought this to the Special Prosecutor investigation. It also fostered the behavior among FBI “leadership” which we find ourselves shocked at when revealed on a daily basis. Is this the proper way to seek justice? I say no.  I swore to uphold the Constitution while protecting the civil rights of the American people. I believe many individuals involved in Mike’s case have lost their way and could care less about protection of due process, civil and legal rights of who they are targeting. Mike has had extensive punishment throughout this process. This process has punished him harder than anyone else could.

Andrew McCabe

I believe I have a unique inside view of the mannerisms surrounding Andrew McCabe, other FBI Executive Management and Former Director Mueller, as well as the unethical and coercive tactics they use, not to seek the truth, but to coerce pleas or admissions to end the pain, as I call it. They destroy lives for their own agendas instead of seeking the truth for the American people. Candor is something that should be encouraged and used by leadership to have necessary and continued improvement.  Under Mueller, it was seen as a threat and viciously opposed by those he pulled up in the chain of command.

I am explaining this because numerous Agents have expressed the need for you to know McCabe’s and Mueller’s pattern of “target and destroy” has been utilized on many others, without regard for policies and laws. I, myself, am a casualty of this reprehensible behavior and I have spoken to well over 150 other FBI individuals who are casualties as well.

I am the individual who filed the Hatch Act complaint against McCabe and provided significant evidentiary documents obtained via FOIA, open source, and information from current, former, and retired Special Agents. The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) asked why my filing of the complaint was delayed from the actual acts. I said I personally thought I was providing additional information to what should have been an automatic referral to OSC by FBI OPR. I was notified I was the only complainant. This illustrates not only a fatal flaw in OPR AD Candice Will not making the appropriate and crucial referral, but also shows the fear of those within the FBI to report individuals like McCabe for fear of retaliation.

While serving at the CIA, detailed by the FBI in January 2012, I was responsible for overseas investigations, as opposed to Continental United States-based (CONUS) cases. Unfortunately, during my assignment at the CIA, I encountered extensive discrimination by two FBI Special Agents and subsequently, in 2012, I filed an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint.  Instead of addressing the issues, then CTD Assistant Director Andrew McCabe chose to authorize a retaliatory Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) investigation against me, five days after my EEO contact. The OPR referral he signed was authored by the two individuals I had filed the EEO complaint against.  In his signed sworn statement, McCabe admitted he knew I had filed or was going to file the EEO.

Numerous members of my department at the CIA requested to be spoken with by CTD executive management, regarding my work ethic and accomplishments.  However, CTD, Inspection Division, and OPR disregarded the list of names and contact numbers I submitted.  This is an example of knowing you are being targeted and the truth is not being sought.

Although my time at this position was short, I was commended by my CIA direct supervisor for: “having already contributed more than your predecessor in the short time you have been here.” My predecessor had been assigned to the post for 18 months; I had been there four months.

In contrast and showing lack of candor, McCabe wrote on official documents the following statement, contradicting the actual direct supervisor I worked with daily:

“SA Gritz had to be removed from a prior position in an interagency environment, due to inappropriate communications and general performance issues”

This is one of many comments McCabe used to discredit my reputation and to ostracize me.  McCabe knew me as someone who told the truth, worked hard, got results, and   was always willing to be flexible when needed. He was also acutely aware of the excellent relationships I had formed in the USG interagency due to comments made by individuals from numerous agencies. Yet, he continued to make false statements on official documents. He has done this to numerous other very valuable FBI employees, destroying their careers and lives. He used similar tactics of lies against Flynn. It should be noted, McCabe was very aware of my professional association with Mike Flynn.

In July 5, 2012, I was involuntarily pulled back to CTD from the CIA. I was told McCabe made the decision. A year and a month later, I resigned from the job I absolutely loved and was good at.  All because of the lack of candor of numerous individuals within the FBI.

Unethical and dishonest investigative tactics

Throughout the last year, I have kept abreast of the revelations surrounding anything related to Mike’s case. I believe, from my years at the FBI and in exposing corruption and discrimination, the circumstances surrounding the targeting, investigation, leaking, and coercion of him to plea are all consistent with the unethical process I and many others have witnessed at the FBI. The charge which Mike Flynn plead to was the result of deception, intimidation, and bias/agenda. Simply, Mike is being branded a convicted felon due to an unethical and dishonest investigation by people who were malicious, vindictive, and corrupt. They wished to silence Mike, like they had once silenced me.

The American people have read the Strzok/Page text messages, the conflicting testimony and lack of candor statements of former Director Comey, the perceived overstepping of the reasonable scope of the Special Prosecutor’s investigation, the extensive unethical, untruthful, and outright illegal behavior of Andrew McCabe, to include slanderous statements against Flynn, and the facts found within FOIA released documents and Congressional testimony. As a former/retired Agent, I have combed through every piece of information regarding Mike’s case, as if I was combing through evidence in the hundreds of cases I have successfully handled while in the FBI.

The publicly reported Brady material alone, in this case, outweighs any statement given by any FBI Agent (we now know at least one FD-302 was changed), Special Prosecutor investigator report, and any other party still aggressively seeking that this case remain and be sentenced as a felony. Quite simply, I cannot see justice being served by branding LtG. Michael Flynn a convicted felon, when the truth is still being revealed while policies, ethics, and laws have been violated by those pursuing this case.

We now know all FBI employees involved in Mike Flynn’s case have either been fired, forced to resign or forced to retire because of their excessive lack of candor, punitive biases, leaking of information, and extensive cover-up of their deeds.

Summation

Michael Flynn has always displayed overwhelming candor and forthrightness.  One of the main individuals involved in his case is Andrew McCabe, who used similar tactics against me in my case, of which Mike Flynn defended me by penning a letter of character reference and is a witness.  Seeing McCabe was named as a Responding Management Official in my case, he should have recused himself with anything having to do with a character witness on my behalf against him and DOJ.

I’m told by numerous people, but have been unable to confirm, that McCabe was asked why he was so viciously going after Flynn; my name was mentioned. I do know, from experience with McCabe, he is a vindictive individual and I have no doubt Mike’s support of me fueled McCabe’s disdain and personally vindictive aggressive unethical activities in this case. It matches his behavior in my case.

Reliable fact-finding is essential to procedural due process and to the accuracy and uniformity of sentencing.  I’m unsure if the fact-finding in this case is reliable, nor do I think we currently have all the facts.

The punishment which LtG. Flynn has already endured this past year, due to the nature of the case, legal fees and reputation damage, is punishment enough.  He is a true patriot, a loving husband and father, a devoted grandfather, a trusted friend, and has a close knit family made up of compassionate and honest individuals. To be branded a felon, is a major hit to a hero who protected the American people for 33 years. I do not think society would benefit from Mike Flynn going to jail nor being branded as a convicted felon. Not knowing the sentencing guidelines for this charge but if there is any chance that the case can be downgraded to a misdemeanor, this would be an act of justice that numerous Americans need to see to stay hopeful for further justice.

Respectfully yours,

Robyn L. Gritz

“Peak TV”: Streaming Originals Overtake Basic Cable

A brand new report from FX Research determined that for the first time, more scripted television shows were released by online streaming platforms like Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix in 2018 than aired on basic cable, pay cable and broadcast television.

In total, there were 495 scripted shows produced in 2018, and 160 of those or 33% debuted on streaming services, a monumental shift that has big cable worried, reported Variety.

For comparison, 146 shows or 29.5% aired on broadcast networks like ABC, CBS, and NBC, 144 shows or 29% aired on basic cable channels like Disney and MTV, and about 45 shows or 9% aired on pay cable like HBO and Showtime in 2018.

While many streaming platforms experienced a jump in output compared to last year, scripted shows on basic cable and broadcast television saw a rapid decline. Last year, basic cable controlled the largest percentage of scripted show market share, but those times have ended, as originals on streaming platforms are now dominant.

Streaming services last year produced 117 shows compared to 160 this year, a 37% jump in output that has outpaced all traditional broadcasting platforms. Streaming service has come a long way in the last seven years when there were only six streaming shows.

The total number of shows across all of television was up 1.6%, rising from 487 in 2017 to 495 this year. Year-to-year growth has plateaued in the last several years, as the television industry has now reached “peak TV.”

Networks like WGN America, MTV, and A&E are dropping scripted television, focusing instead on unscripted reality shows. Fox has also “geared down on its number of scripted originals, with the network having launched just three new shows this fall with two on deck for midseason,” said Variety.

FX CEO John Landgraf famously coined the term “peak TV” several years ago, referring to an overwhelming rise in the number of scripted shows being produced.

FX Research’s study shows that “peak TV” has been reached as the year-to-year growth rate in shows plateaued, but there is a silver lining when the global and US economy rolls over and thousands are laid off. The unemployed will be able to Netflix and chill with hundreds of shows.

The Festering Social Rift Over Pensions

Authored by Adam Taggart via PeakProsperity.com,

Why does he get to retire and I don’t?

Most Americans will never be able to afford to retire.

We laid out the depressing math in our recent report Will Your Retirement Efforts Achieve Escape Velocity?:

  • The median retirement account balance among all working US adults is $0. This is true even for the cohort closest to retirement age, those 55-64 years old.

  • The average (i.e., mean) near-retirement individual has less than 8% of one year’s income saved in a retirement account

  • 77% of all American households aren’t on track to have enough net worth to retire, even under the most conservative estimates.

(Source)

There a number of causal factors that have contributed to this lack of retirement preparedness (decades of stagnant real wages, fast-rising cost of living, the Great Recession, etc), but as we explained in our report The Great Retirement Con, perhaps none has had more impact than the shift from dedicated-contribution pension plans to voluntary private savings:

The Origins Of The Retirement Plan

Back during the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress promised a monthly lifetime income to soldiers who fought and survived the conflict. This guaranteed income stream, called a “pension”, was again offered to soldiers in the Civil War and every American war since.

Since then, similar pension promises funded from public coffers expanded to cover retirees from other branches of government. States and cities followed suit — extending pensions to all sorts of municipal workers ranging from policemen to politicians, teachers to trash collectors.

A pension is what’s referred to as a defined benefit plan. The payout promised a worker upon retirement is guaranteed up front according to a formula, typically dependent on salary size and years of employment.

Understandably, workers appreciated the security and dependability offered by pensions. So, as a means to attract skilled talent, the private sector started offering them, too. 

The first corporate pension was offered by the American Express Company in 1875. By the 1960s, half of all employees in the private sector were covered by a pension plan.

Off-loading Of Retirement Risk By Corporations

Once pensions had become commonplace, they were much less effective as an incentive to lure top talent. They started to feel like burdensome cost centers to companies.

As America’s corporations grew and their veteran employees started hitting retirement age, the amount of funding required to meet current and future pension funding obligations became huge. And it kept growing. Remember, the Baby Boomer generation, the largest ever by far in US history, was just entering the workforce by the 1960s.

Companies were eager to get this expanding liability off of their backs. And the more poorly-capitalized firms started defaulting on their pensions, stiffing those who had loyally worked for them.

So, it’s little surprise that the 1970s and ’80s saw the introduction of personal retirement savings plans. The Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) was formed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in 1974. And the first 401k plan was created in 1980.

These savings vehicles are defined contribution plans. The future payout of the plan is variable (i.e., unknown today), and will be largely a function of how much of their income the worker directs into the fund over their career, as well as the market return on the fund’s investments.

Touted as a revolutionary improvement for the worker, these plans promised to give the individual power over his/her own financial destiny. No longer would it be dictated by their employer.

Your company doesn’t offer a pension? No worries: open an IRA and create your own personal pension fund.

Afraid your employer might mismanage your pension fund? A 401k removes that risk. You decide how your retirement money is invested.

Want to retire sooner? Just increase the percent of your annual income contributions.

All this sounded pretty good to workers. But it sounded GREAT to their employers.

Why? Because it transferred the burden of retirement funding away from the company and onto its employees. It allowed for the removal of a massive and fast-growing liability off of the corporate balance sheet, and materially improved the outlook for future earnings and cash flow.

As you would expect given this, corporate America moved swiftly over the next several decades to cap pension participation and transition to defined contribution plans.

The table below shows how vigorously pensions (green) have disappeared since the introduction of IRAs and 401ks (red):

(Source)

So, to recap: 40 years ago, a grand experiment was embarked upon. One that promised US workers: Using these new defined contribution vehicles, you’ll be better off when you reach retirement age.

Which raises a simple but very important question: How have things worked out?

The Ugly Aftermath

America The Broke

Well, things haven’t worked out too well.

Four decades later, what we’re realizing is that this shift from dedicated-contribution pension plans to voluntary private savings was a grand experiment with no assurances. Corporations definitely benefited, as they could redeploy capital to expansion or bottom line profits. But employees? The data certainly seems to show that the experiment did not take human nature into account enough – specifically, the fact that just because people have the option to save money for later use doesn’t mean that they actually will.

And so we end up with the dismal retirement stats bulleted above.

The Income Haves & Have-Nots

In our recent report The Primacy Of Income, we summarized our years-long predictions of a coming painful market correction followed by a prolonged era of no capital gains across equities, bond and real estate.

Simply put: the ‘easy’ gains made over the past 8 years as the central banks did their utmost to inflate asset prices is over. Asset appreciation is going to be a lot harder to come by in the future.

Which makes income now the prime source of building — or simply just maintaining — wealth going forward.

That being the case, it’s obvious that those receiving a pension will be in far better shape than those who aren’t. They’ll have a guaranteed income stream to partially or fully fund their retirement.

Resentment Brewing

While the total number of people expecting a pension isn’t tiny, it’s certainly a minority of today’s workers.

31 million private-sector, state and local government workers in the US participate in a pension plan. 3.3 million currently-employed civilian Federal workers will receive a pension; as will some percentage of the 2 million people serving in the active military and reserves.

Combined, that’s about 25% of current US workers; roughly 13% of total US adults.

Now that the Everything Bubble is bursting and a return to economic recession appears increasingly probable within the next year or two, the disparity in prospects between these 35 million future pensioners and the rest of the workforce will become increasingly obvious.

The danger here is of festering social discord. The majority, whom we already know will not be able to retire, will highly likely start regarding pensioners with envy and resentment.

“Hey, I worked as hard as Joe during my career. How come he gets to retire and I don’t?” will be a common narrative running in the minds of those jealous of their neighbors.

This bitterness will only increase as taxes continue to rise to fund government pension payouts, already a huge drain on public budgets“Why am I paying more so Joe can relax on the beach??”

Humans are wired to react angrily to perceived injustice and unfairness. This short clip shows how it’s hard-coded into our primate brains:

So it’s not a stretch at all to predict the divisive tension and prejudice that will result from the growing gap between the pension haves and have-nots.

The negative stereotypes of union workers will be tightly re-embraced. This SNL sketch captures a good number of them:

The steady news reports of pension fraud and abuse will anger the majority further. Any projected decreases in Social Security (benefit payouts will only be 79 cents on the dollar by 2035 at our current trajectory) will only exacerbate the ire, as the small governmental income the have-nots receive becomes even more meager.

The growing potential here is for an emerging social schism, possibly accompanied with intimidation and violence, not dissimilar to that which has occurred along racial or religious lines during darker eras of our history.

As people become stressed, they react emotionally, and look for a culprit to blame. And as they become more desperate, as many elderly workers with no savings often do, they’ll resort to more desperate measures.

Broken Promises

And it’s not all sunshine and roses for the pensioners, either. Being promised a pension and actually receiving one are two very different things.

Underfunded pension liabilities are a massive ticking time bomb, certain to explode over the next few decades.

For example, many pensions offered through multi-employer plans are bad shape. The multiemployer branch of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the federally-instated insurer behind private pensions, will be out of business by 2025 if no changes in law are made to help. If that happens, retirees in those plans will get only 10% of what they were promised.

Moreover, research conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows a $1.4 trillion shortfall between state pension assets and guarantees to employees. There are only two ways a gap that big gets addressed: massive tax hikes or massive benefit cuts. The likeliest outcome will be a combination of both.

So, many of those today counting on a pension tomorrow may find themselves in a similar boat to their pension-less neighbors.

No Easy Systemic Solutions, So Act For Yourself

There’s no “fix” to the retirement predicament of the American workforce. There’s no policy change that can be made at this late date to reverse the decades of over-spending, over-indebtedness, and lack of saving.

All we can do at this time is influence how we take our licks. Do we simply leave the masses of unprepared workers to their sad fate? Or do we share the pain across the entire populace by funding new social support programs via more taxes?

Time will tell. But what we can bet on is tougher times ahead, especially for those with poor income prospects.

So the smart strategy for the prudent investor is to prioritize building a portfolio of income streams in order to have sufficient dependable income for a sustainable retirement. Or for simply remaining afloat financially.

Sadly, accustomed to the speculative approach marketed to us for so long by the financial industry, most investors are woefully under-educated in how to build a diversified portfolio of passive income streams (inflation-adjusting and tax-deferred whenever possible) over time.

Those looking to get up to speed can read our recent report A Primer On Investing For Inflation-Adjusting Income, where we detail out the wide range of prevalent (and not-so-prevalent) solutions for today’s investors to consider when designing an income-generating portfolio. From bonds, to dividends (common and preferred), to real estate, to royalties — we explain each vehicle, how it can be used, and what the major benefits and risks are.

And in the interim, make sure the wealth you have accumulated doesn’t disappear along with the bursting of the Everything Bubble. If you haven’t already read it yet, read our premium report from last week What To Do Now That ‘The Big One’ Is Here.

“Pretty Loud Bang”: Boeing 737 Jet Damaged In Possible Midair Drone Strike 

Grupo Aeromexico, an airline holding company, headquartered in Mexico City that owns and operates Aeromexico, is investigating a possible drone strike that severely damaged one of its Boeing 737 jetliners as the aircraft approached its final destination in Tijuana, Mexico, reported Bloomberg.

Several social media reports and local Mexican news media confirmed by Grupo Aeromexico that Flight 773 from Guadalajara was in final approach (also called the final leg and final approach leg) to the airport when the crew heard a “very strong blow” to the aircraft. The pilots were able to land without further incident, as no passengers were injured.

Desde Tijuana nos hacen llegar estas imágenes del Radomo de un B737 de Aeromexico en Tijuana.

Nuestra fuente indica que se trató de un impacto a un dron en la aproximación final. pic.twitter.com/YJhKVGKY4W

— FsMex.com (@FsMexcom) December 12, 2018

2018-12-12 Aeromexico B737-800 (XA-ADV) sustained damage to its radome on approach to runway 09 at Tijuana-Intl AP (MMTJ), Mexico. Flight #AM770 from Guadalajara landed safely. Unconfirmed reports indicate the aircraft may have hit a drone. https://t.co/L7aG5OlLDp pic.twitter.com/g0Mfpw1po3

— JACDEC (@JacdecNew) December 13, 2018

Local reports suggested that it was a drone that caused the terrifying impact and have provided numerous pictures of the badly damaged nosecone and radome of the aircraft.

Avión de Aeroméxico choca con dron en #Tijuana https://t.co/5ffb6yCDCy pic.twitter.com/KyB9eyZncw

— Milenio.com (@Milenio) December 13, 2018

“The exact cause is still being investigated,” Aeromexico said in a statement. “The aircraft landed normally and the passengers’ safety was never compromised.”

More photos have emerged on social media showing a large dent punched into the front of the plane.

Incidents involving planes and drones have become more common in the last several years as the number of consumer drones around the world has exploded. 

Take, for example, the US, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said drone registrations stood at the 670,000 in January 2017. Fast forward to 2018, and the latest figures show more than a million consumer drones have been registered.

With more consumer drones in the sky, there have been 6,000 drone sightings by pilots, some of them by airline crews, through June, according to FAA data.

So far, the US National Transportation Safety Board has investigated one confirmed midair collision involving a drone. An Army Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter collided with a consumer drone near Staten Island, New York, in September 2017, causing minor damage. 

It is only a matter of time before a consumer drone strikes another passenger jet, not on the nosecone and radome, but rather a direct engine hit, which would be catastrophic.

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