EXECUTIVE INTELLIGENCE SUMMARY – 08 APR 16
The National PMESII section is a break down of national- and regional-level Political, Military, Economic, Social, Infrastructure, and Information events and trends. Appendix: Collection of acronyms and definitions used.
[wcm_nonmember] In this EXSUM…
- Balkanization of America Is In Progress
- Military Maintains Power to Fight Domestic Insurgency, But Doubtful for Near-Peer War
- JP Morgan CEO Admits Long-Term Economic Problems
- Obama’s Refugee Re-settlement Plan Falling Well Short
- CEC: Los Angeles Area May Experience Summer Blackouts
- “Marty’s” Home Security Cameras Catch Criminal Behavior
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[wcm_restrict plan =”fo-osint”]
Political/Government: Balkanization of America Is In Progress
Exceedingly I’m convinced that the Balkanization of America is moving from the realm of distinct possibility to confirmed trend. In the past year, we’ve seen states pass laws that raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Massachusetts passed a $15 wage for home healthcare workers (and additional sectors are likely to follow), and on Monday, California and New York reached deals to make $15 minimum wage hikes for the state by 2022. In 2015, 14 cities and/or counties in seven states — including Washington, Oregon, and Montana — agreed to the $15 minimum wage mark, and more localities are set join them in 2016.
Meanwhile, states like North Carolina and Mississippi this year joined Indiana and Arkansas in recently passing Religious Freedom Acts that allow Americans options to not violate their religious rights. This would, for instance, prevent a Christian bakery from being forced to bake a cake for a homosexual wedding, or events in the 1990s where the government forced post-mortem autopsies on individuals whose religions prohibited them.
The advent of the “Democratic Socialist” candidacy of Bernie Sanders and the surprising amount of support he’s received — he’s won 15 state primaries, by the way — begs the question: “Will there eventually be a Socialist States of America”? (Admittedly, his opponent is a felon.) Sure, the Democrat Party has always had its share of socialist and communist sympathizers, but how can Obama and Sanders get away with such blatant Marxism in America? Because this is America 2016.
The fight over minimum wage and religious freedom, not to mention federal land ownership, border security, and free market capitalism, are just symptoms of differing definitions of liberty and justice. I do expect on this trajectory, as economic instability worsens over the next decade, that the federal government will become incapable of meeting its fiscal demands, and Americans will have greater reasons to withdraw from the policies of opposing teams. When state governments realize that there’s more to gain outside the federal system that in it, they’ll begin cutting clear paths to secession. (Of course, timelines may vary due to world wars or domestic insurrections.)
Military/Security/Defense: Military Maintains Power to Win Domestic Insurgency, But Doubtful for Near-Peer War
In a Congressional hearing on Thursday, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said that he sees a “high risk” that the military would be able to prosecute a war with a near-peer like China or Russia.
“On the ‘high military risk,’ to be clear, we have sufficient capacity and capability and readiness to fight counterinsurgency and counterterrorism. My military risk refers specifically to what I see as emerging threats and potential for great power conflict and I am specifically talking about the time it takes to execute the task … and the cost in terms of casualties.”
(AC: A major theme in the U.S. military right now is that budget cuts and sequestration have forced leaders to choose between troop strength, training, and force modernization. In a report last month, Forward Observer detailed the problems facing each of the military branches. And nearly a year ago, I wrote that the Army was at 33% readiness to fight a war. Now that war with Russia and/or China is becoming more likely — certainly there’s a potential for World War III to breakout in the Middle East if Iran and Saudi Arabia go to war — the military’s ability to successfully wage a large war overseas is doubtful. The U.S. military, however, certainly maintains the ability to fight a domestic insurgency, whether initiated by leftist socialists or right-wing militias after the 2016 election.)
Economic/Financial: JP Morgan CEO Admits Long-Term Economic Problems
On Wednesday, JP Morgan Chase released their 2015 annual report (download) in which CEO Jamie Dimon warned that the U.S. faces “economic tragedy” if solutions to a multitude of problems aren’t implemented. He notes: “the long-term fiscal and tax issues (driven mostly by healthcare and Social Security costs, as well as complex and poorly designed corporate and individual taxes), immigration, education (especially in inner city schools) and the need for good, longterm infrastructure plans.”
He continues that he doesn’t believe these conditions will “cause a crisis in the next five to 10 years,” however, beyond ten years inter-generational warfare will cause political turmoil, causing an economic “tragedy that we can see coming.”
(AC: Although the note was a warning to shareholders about how politics and policy shape the economy — he compared West and East Germany, for instance — it was not overall a call to immediate action to avoid immediate economic tragedy. Of the many problem points he made, he likely believes that they can be managed by intervention from the government and Federal Reserve; and so far, he’s been correct. One point of cognitive dissonance for many in the prepper community is this sense that the world is crashing down right now. The number of predictions that have called for societal collapse by 2012 or by Christmas of every year since 2008 are myriad. And they scare the pants off people. I’d like to encourage you be prepared for the worst because it’s a potential scenario, but also consider that perhaps there’s still quite a bit of resilience built into our economy. The U.S. GDP is over $16 trillion and that’s not going to zero tomorrow.)
Social/Demographic: Obama’s Refugee Re-settlement Plan Falling Well Short
Although last year he called for 10,000 Syrian refugees to be resettled in the U.S. in the first year of the program, just 1,300 have been admitted through March 2016. The State Department recently stated that they’d be creating a “new pathway” for the refugee resettlement program, and while they didn’t provide any details, State did say that they are sending more staff to Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq, presumably to help register and select refugees for resettlement. As for the pace of resettlement, a State Department official maintained that resettlement would “increase steadily throughout the fiscal year.”
Infrastructure/Energy: CEC: Los Angeles Area May Experience Summer Blackouts
Earlier this week, officials in California warned that the state could experience up to 14 days of scheduled blackouts due to the Porter Ranch gas leak. The four-month long leak drained gas from a storage facility that powers 17 power plants in the Los Angeles Basin. Officials say that millions of customers in the Los Angeles area could be affected.
The California Energy Commission released a report indicating an additional 18 days of power outages in the area. State officials this week also reported that too much solar power generation was damaging the California’s power grid. On 27 March, the state shut down solar farms due to over-generating electrical demand, which damaged the grid.
“If you continue going down this route, you’re going to have significant challenges in managing disturbances,” said John Moura, an official at the North American Electric Reliability Corporation.
(AC: It’s certainly possible that California will experience black outs this summer. Although the official statement sounds grim, it likely has an ulterior motive: behavior modification. By overplaying the risk now, officials can get Californians to conserve electricity before gas shortages become a problem. But California does have some options, like purchasing the electricity shortfall from neighboring states or merging the grid with Oregon’s PacifiCorp to cover the margin gap. Either way, between the continuing drought and the potential for blackouts, Los Angeles may have another rocky summer. As of 05 April, ninety-six percent of California is under drought conditions. Thirty-one percent is under Exceptional Drought conditions. Forward Observer will monitor the situation in California and provide additional analysis if it poses a SHTF threat.)
Information Systems/Surveillance/Communications: “Marty’s” Home Security Cameras Catch Criminal Behavior
Turning the tables on what’s typically state surveillance, for the past ten years, a Sacramento man has been recording a crime-ridden park near his residence.
“From sex and drugs, to the only thing we haven’t had yet is a shooting. People are doing things in front of my house they won’t do in front of their own,” said the man, who lives across the street. In the past ten years, “Marty” has put up 23 cameras around his property to record the criminal behavior that’s plaguing the community. Four years ago, he started a YouTube channel featuring the recordings of criminal behavior. Although the community has mixed feelings about him recording the public space, he’s undeterred.
“We’re not going to sit back and let the neighborhood go to pot again. If we see something, we contact authorities,” he said.
(AC: While there’s no word on whether or not the cameras have deterred criminal behavior in the park, it has certainly aided peace officers in fighting crime. If nothing else, it proves illicit activity is occurring in the park. And it reminds me of a story a friend told me a few years ago. He lives in a remote, mountain residential area with low crime. He set up a camera array shortly after moving in, and the cameras recorded a stranger who walked up to his front porch and then walked around the front of the house. The stranger didn’t break in, but could have been conducting reconnaissance for burglary. Needless to say, the stranger’s face was captured on a 1080P camera, which would have made short work of identifying the man. Security cameras around a retreat property, especially if it’s not a full-time residence, is a great idea. He recommends the Foscam FI8918W with 8 Meter Night Vision.)
AC: Analyst Comment; an opinion, explanation or clarification
EXSUM: Executive Intelligence Summary
OSINT: Open Source Intelligence