Posts Tagged ‘sequester’

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Russia Today
http://rt.com/usa/pentagon-fax-machine-muckrock-935/
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Pentagon too broke to buy a new fax machine
Published time: September 16, 2013 19:01
Edited time: September 17, 2013 11:20

20130919-075410.jpgRat Finks in The
Pentagon building
in Washington, DC.

Tags: Government Spending, Information Technology, Military, USA

The United States went ahead with major spending cuts earlier this year, slicing around $85 billion off the federal budget. But while most government offices remain afloat, a fax machine on the fritz may be too costly for the Pentagon to fix.

Investigative journalists working for the website Muckrock.com have identified one side-effect of the sequester that is only now starting to cause concerns. A facsimile machine at Defense Department headquarters has reportedly been out of commission for almost three weeks now and is hindering the ability for reporters to file Freedom of Information Act requests with the military.

“Starting two weeks ago, requests faxed to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) started coming back as undeliverable. After several subsequent attempts and troubleshooting on our end, MuckRock reached out to the OSD. Sure enough, their fax machine is down,” journalist Shawn Musgrave wrote on the site last week.

What’s more, though, is that Musgrave reported that the fax machine in question — the only one at the Pentagon handling FOIA requests, according to him — may remain out-of-service for another month, if not more.

When Musgrave pressed the Pentagon to deliver an estimated date when the machine might be back up and running, Defense Department officials said that, should no replacement be immediately available, the matter must wait until the start of the new fiscal year.

“We would that it is back up sometime in October, but could extend into the beginning of November,” Aaron Graves of the OSD replied to Muckrock.

“It bears repeating,” Musgrave after that exchange. “The office that oversees the most powerful military in history (not to mention the best-funded) is unable to project when its single fax machine will once again be operational.”

Meanwhile, the US military is budgeted to spend over one trillion dollars in FY2012, and its in-progress F-35 fighter jet program — the most expensive weapons system ever ordered — could come at a price-tag that exceeds even that when all is said and done.

Of course, that isn’t to say that a pesky fax problem isn’t the only item at hand causing concerns in Washington.

A study released last week by Goldman Sachs suggested that as many as 100,000 federal jobs could disappear due to budget cuts during the next year.

“[M]any federal agencies have employed temporary strategies to adjust to sequestration this year, such as employee furloughs and deferral of maintenance and training, with the hope that sequestration would ultimately be reversed,” the report reads in part. “If sequestration continues, more permanent adjustments will become necessary and agencies may be more willing to undertake them if Congress declines once again to reverse the cuts.”

In the meantime, journalists might want to go about sending their FOIA requests the old fashioned way, or else resort to what Musgrave called “a clunky online request portal that doesn’t play nice with other systems.”

And if that doesn’t work, someone might want to tell the Pentagon that the Best Buy down the road can have a brand-new Panasonic laser fax/copier in stock within days for only around $150.

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http://guardianlv.com/2013/02/has-the-sequester-been-created-on-purpose-to-cloud-our-minds/

“The Fed can afford to lose money because it can simply print more.” –The New York Times.

Added by GM on February 28, 2013.

Unless Congress and President Obama do something about it, the sequester will happen tonight at Midnight. Is this a ploy to keep people’s minds off of the One Peoples Public Trust? You decide.

Jim Donahue

Not So Smart – By James Howard Kunstler

One striking but little discussed element about the new Netflix Washington political drama series, House of Cards, is that every time a character picks up a cell phone, something bad happens. The character’s phones shadow them at every turn like evil twins, giving the impression that the US government, and everything in its orbit, is run not by human beings but by cell phones. The people attached are merely puppets of the phones.

I don’t think this is a sign of the rumored “singularity,” the point at which human and machine intelligence supposedly meld into a shimmering synthesis of silicon masturbation fantasies. Rather it’s just another demonstration of the diminishing returns of technology — or how thinking you’re so smart actually makes you stupider. Surely we are a stupider nation politically than we were before the age of texting, drones, and high frequency trading.

I have no predictions about what exact effects the so-called Sequester might bring about when its dreaded hammer rings down on Friday. But something that works as a bitch-slap upside this nation’s tattooed head is apt to be salutary, if only to demonstrate to the apathetic masses and its grifter leaders that anything which can’t go on forever, eventually won’t.

What disturbs me, a non-right-winger politically, is that the US government should not try to replace a functioning real economy of volitional exchanges, especially if necessity compels that economy to change. That is what our government has been attempting by stealthy increments for decades and now with reckless abandon in the new era of a permanent contraction that no political figure can fathom. Lately, this trend has been ramped up under the wishful hypothesis that some magical new technology or financial “secret sauce,” will eventually bring back a return to the nirvana of techno-industrial boom times, if only we can be “smart” enough. The wishing is evident in such con-jobs as the shale gas bubble (“We’ll soon be energy independent”) and the idea that a few new Apple fabrication factories, staffed largely by robots, will save the remnant American blue collar class from their fate as tattooed convenience store layabouts.

Of course there is plenty of real work to do around the USA in transitioning to the next phase of history, but we’re not interested because it might violate our narrow comfort zone. We need more people to start working at local farming. When agri-biz fails it will happen hard and fast because of its seasonal nature, and the familiar distribution networks (supermarkets) will fail with it. American political leadership won’t inform its citizen-subjects about this beforehand, or shift policy supports away from their ag-industrial client-patrons. To be fair, American citizens can’t see themselves working in the crop rows, either. They will choose to starve rather than do what they’ve seen Mexican migrants do for a couple of generations — and they will starve, eventually, too, even with The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills playing on the flat screen in the background.

If we weren’t such a stupid people in thrall to our “smart” phones, we’d be rebuilding the US passenger railroad system for the day, not far off, when the grand entitlement of Happy Motoring rather suddenly vaporizes for a significant chunk of the population. The lack of interest in that project is really something to behold. Politicians who systematically “de-fund” the rail corridors, which is the case here in the Northeast, do it because they are as clueless as their constituents about what’s really coming down. Rather, both the politicians and the public place their bets on “self-driving cars” powered by an as-yet-to-be announced sovereign replacement for liquid hydrocarbon fuel. The net effect of that stupidity is that your children and grandchildren will lead lives in which they rarely travel more than ten miles from home.

What also gets me about the aptly-named tele-drama House of Cards is the way all the leading politician characters are seamlessly conveyed around Washington D.C. by chauffeured limousines, even two-bit congressmen from states where people don’t eat with knives and forks. Cossetted in their air-cooled back seats, they relentlessly romance their smart phones, making more trouble for themselves and for everyone in this sad-ass feckless country. What a tragic conceit for the nation of dunces we have actually made of ourselves.

Guest Author James Howard Kunstler has written many novels, including “The Long Emergency, The Geography of Nowhere.” Follow this link for more info.

Jim Donahue

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http://guardianlv.com/2013/02/has-the-sequester-been-created-on-purpose-to-cloud-our-minds/

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