Helping Solve a Veteran Unemployment Problem and a National Security Concern
Do any of us fully realize the vulnerability of the electricity infrastructure of the United States?
Given the interconnectivity of our information age, it is undeniable that essentially everyone not only uses the power grid, but they do it every single hour of every single day. From traffic signals and air conditioning to alarm systems and Internet commerce, electricity is absolutely vital to daily functioning.
Many would be shocked at the idea that something this essential would be at the same time so defenseless – and yet, that is the scary reality.
On April 16, 2013, just before 1 a.m., someone slipped unnoticed into an underground vault near PG&E's Metcalf Transmission Substation, near San Jose, California. They cut the telephone cables and opened fire on the substation. In all, 17 transformers within the complex were destroyed in an attack lasting less than 20 minutes. To date, the perpetrators have not been caught.
Luckily, other plants were able to meet the power need preventing a temporary blackout and continued filling the void during the 27-day repair until the substation was fully operational. Notably, Jon Wellinghoff, then the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), called the attack, “The most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred.”
The obvious question: Why would someone attack a substation? Or that substation?
Imagine how easily a small cell of terrorists could destroy infrastructure and create large-scale blackouts, with little risk of being caught. Our Country’s enemies could so easily capitalize on our hyper-vulnerability, this figurative chink in our security armor, making it all the more important to address it—and soon.
A well-planned and executed attack on several substations could easily cause rolling blackouts and leave millions of Americans without power for days, and perhaps far longer. This is not only a security risk, but also a societal threat that would result in an economic nightmare. In a worst case scenario, hospitals, retirement homes, schools, businesses and law enforcement could all be running on emergency lights and generators, assuming they were running at all.
We pass transmission substations daily without giving them a second thought. The lack of apparent security should never make us forget they are vital cogs in the network that makes up the infrastructure of this nation. They serve as hubs for intersecting grid lines and make it possible to move electricity over long distances.
The large transformers targeted in last year’s attack make electricity transmission possible. The fact that they are heavy, expensive and not quickly produced means that a successful, coordinated attack on a number of important substations could result in outages affecting tens of millions and lasting for weeks, months or even longer.
Thus far, everyone seems to be more or less in the dark (pun intended!). Clearly, closed circuit television feeds from cameras, chain linked or occasionally barbed wire fencing and a few warning signs are not going to protect these substations from harm. We need to find a more effective solution.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' numbers from January of 2014 say the unemployment rate among military veterans is 5.6%, which means that roughly 600,000 veterans are currently unemployed. The unemployed rate rises to 7.9% for veterans who served since September 11th, 2001, representing around 190,000 veterans without jobs.
So here’s an idea: It is achievable, not to mention relatively inexpensive, to create a force of guards for America’s transmission substations comprised of unemployed veterans. The size of the force would depend on the specifics of the substation, but teams of between two to three dozen guards would certainly be helpful added protection. We have already invested money in training our military veterans, giving them invaluable skills we can now use to guard our Nation's infrastructure.
The simplicity of this solution should not detract from its potential effectiveness. It would not take many armed veterans to deter such attacks on these substations. The mere human presence alone acts as a more potent deterrent than all of the methods being used today.
In short, we plug a hole in the defenses of the Country while decreasing veteran unemployment—a true win-win. In terms of funding this measure, a marginal fee could be placed on utility bills coupled with less training overhead and the sheer number of individuals paying the fee; it would be virtually unnoticeable to the average consumer.
This deficit neutral idea, used effectively, to successfully guard the United States from attacks: that's a plan that should light up Capitol Hill.
Sun, 09 Mar 2014 13:09:00 GMT
Millennials Less Religious, More Liberal then Their Elders
A study by the Pew Research Center found that those people who were born between 1981 and 1995, known as the “millennial generation,” were less religious than their elders, less willing to view themselves as patriotic, and more willing to identify themselves as liberal. The study avers that the millennials call themselves political independents to a greater degree than their elders, but in truth, are more likely to voter Democratic.
The millennials more heavily favor a more involved government in their lives and gay rights. Just shy of one-third of millennials say they are liberals while about one-quarter say they are conservatives. 57% of the millennials say they have gotten even more liberal as the years have flown by. Almost 70% favor same-sex marriage, more than 50% support gay rights, and they are more likely to favor legalizing marijuana than their elders.
Baby boomers reverse the trend, with 41% calling themselves conservative and 21% liberal, and the majority saying they have grown more conservative with time.
Sun, 09 Mar 2014 11:45:00 GMT
While Crimea Burns, Obama Golfs
Question: What does Barack Obama do while ineffectually dealing with the Russia and Ukraine fight over the Crimea, watching that region burn, and also ordering the cutting of funds for missile defense for Israel while enabling Iran to continue heading for nuclear bomb-making capability, thus heating the Middle East to the boiling point?
Answer: He goes golfing. On Saturday, Obama joined former NFL star receiver Ahnmad Rashad ,former NBA star center Alonzo Mourning, and Cyrus Walker, Valerie Jarrett’s cousin, to go golfing in Key Largo, Florida. Obama brought the wife and kids for a weekend getaway. White House spokesman Josh Earnest explained that Obama was relishing warm-weather downtime.
Sun, 09 Mar 2014 11:37:00 GMT
Florida Church Leaders Increasingly Bringing Guns With Their Bibles to Church
Armed and trained church leaders constitute a growing trend in Florida.
According to Orlando's News 13, a company called Bethel Defense is training "pastors and church leaders to use handcuffs, batons, and special lights that can be used to distract someone causing a problem." They are also teaching church leaders "how to use stun guns and handguns."
Bethel Defense owner Craig Dixon said pastors and church leaders are taught in such a way as to keep the use of the gun as the "last alternative."
Some Florida churches are also adding security cameras, "a team of volunteers to monitor each service," and security teams to sweep the grounds "after each service."
Journey Christian Church's Roddy Conner said they've added various security measures that they "don't want to be too out front about." Rather, he said they just want the peace of knowing "that they] are prepared."
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Sun, 09 Mar 2014 11:34:00 GMT
Dr. Ben Carson: 'I Will Continue to Defy the PC Police'
At CPAC on Saturday, Dr. Ben Carson said that he will battle the "PC police" and speak his mind about why Obamacare is the worst thing to have happened to the country since slavery.
He said he "missed what medicine used to be" and emphasized that the most important thing Americans have is "their healthcare."
"I will continue to defy the PC Police who have tried in many cases to shut me up," Carson said. He said he did say that Obamacare was like slavery but was blamed for doing so by liberals hellbent on twisting all of his words and taking them out of context. He said slavery was much worse than Obamacare. But Carson said that he said Obamacare was the worst thing since slavery because it is the "most massive shift of power in America that has ever occurred."
"We need to put the power back in the hands of the people, and we need to make sure we keep it there," Carson said.
Carson blasted liberals for taking after Saul Alinsky and trying to "make the majority think that what they think is out of the mainstream."
"They have been beaten into submission by the PC Police, and people are afraid to speak up for what they believe," Carson said. "It's time for people to proclaim what they believe and stop being bullied."
Carson said that he still believes that "marriage is between a man and a woman" and is not afraid to say that he has succeeded because, "I had a mother who was 'no excuses' and because I believe in God."
Sun, 09 Mar 2014 11:31:00 GMT