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"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Trump Administration Begins Quiet Preparations For Government Shutdown

Trump Administration Begins Quiet Preparations For Government Shutdown
SOURCE
Includes the recent major power outages and an article on the upcoming civil war in this country

Even as Donald Trump is desperate to show to the US population, and especially his voter base, some actual achievement before his first 100 days run out next weekend, prompting him to tell AP that he will unveil a "tremendous" tax ut plan next week (recall he did the same in February), the Trump administration is quietly preparing for the possibility of a government shutdown, even though the president and his staff believe one is unlikely to occur. 
With the Senate reconvening on Monday and the House of Representatives on Tuesday after a two-week recess, lawmakers will have only four days to pass a spending package to keep the government open beyond April 28, when funding expires for numerous federal programs. "I think we want to keep the government open," Trump said on Thursday, adding he thinks Congress can pass the funding legislation and perhaps also a revamped healthcare bill.


Trump's wish may be problematic: as a reminder, the government will shut down midnight on April 28 if Congress cannot agree on a spending bill. As reported over the past week, the measure hit various snags over Trump's demands to include funding for Trump’s border wall and a debate over money for an ObamaCare insurer subsidy program, both programs which virtually assure the spending bill will not pass.
As a result, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has begun to coordinate with government agencies to plan for a possible shutdown. “While we do not expect a lapse, prudence and common sense require routine assessments will be made,” OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said in a statement.
The office set up a phone call to go over the agencies’ shutdown plans, which could include steps such as furloughs for federal workers.  The OMB said the plans were reviewed ahead of a possible shutdown last December and are unlikely to be revised.
As Compass Point analyst Isaac Boltansky, notes, "wall funding is just one of many policy potholes that could disrupt negotiations, including ACA cost-sharing subsidies, coal miner benefits, sanctuary cities."
To be sure, Congress can avoid a full-blown shutdown if it passes a short-term spending measure to keep the government open while negotiations over a broader funding deal continue, but even that process has been put into question.
"I think we're in good shape," President Trump said when asked about the possibility of a shutdown. “We remain confident we’re not going to have a shutdown,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters at a separate off-camera briefing, calling the preparation “required steps” for the federal agencies and departments.
Some analysts disagree with the optimistic assessment.
According to Cowen's Chris Kruger "shutdown theatrics reach fever pitch next week, with one-week punt most likely outcome" however he focuses on the "White House’s misconception they have any leverage with Democrats when it’s the opposite, as Congressional Democrats have less than zero incentive to compromise with Trump and Trump needs them to keep govt from shutting down."
As such unless Trump concedes to all demands, not only is a full spending bill out of the question, but even a short-term agreement appears precarious.
More ominously, Kruger adds that "until this week, shutdown threat seemed very low as Congressional GOP leadership, appropriators hammered out spending agreements, were on same page as Democrats; that went sideways when White House pushed more confrontational approach on ObamaCare, immigration."
Meanwhile, Height Securities' Peter Cohn has noted the House Democrats taking a hard line against even one-week stopgap continuing resolution (CR) "due to unresolved White House demands on funding wall construction, withholding funds from sanctuary cities."
He sees 25% odds for temporary partial shutdown, with path to deal including boost for border "security" funds (not wall), added military funding. Others, such as Goldman see shutdown odds at one in three (and rising).
As Reuters adds, leading House Democrats were voicing skepticism a deal could be reached by the deadline. In a telephone call for House Democrats, Representative Nita Lowey, the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said: "I don't see how we can meet that deadline" and avoid having to pass a short-term extension, according to an aide on the call. The second-ranking House Democrat, Representative Steny Hoyer, told his fellow Democrats that they should only support such a short-term measure if a deal on long-term bill is reached and only finishing touches remained, the aide said.
Republican leaders face a familiar balancing act: satisfying the party's most conservative members while not alienating its moderates.
Rules in the 100-seat Senate mean Trump's party also would need the support of at least eight Democrats even if the Republicans remain unified, giving the opposition party leverage. House Republican leaders would need some Democratic votes if the most conservative lawmakers object to the bill, as they did to the healthcare plan championed by Speaker Paul Ryan. With congressional elections looming next year, Republicans acknowledge the stakes are high.
"Even our most recalcitrant members understand that if you shut down the government while you're running it and you control the House and the Senate, you can't blame anybody but yourself," said Representative Tom Cole, a senior House Appropriations Committee Republican.
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said the Trump administration was willing to talk to Democrats about funding for Obamacare subsidies in exchange for their agreement to include some Trump priorities such as the wall, the defense hike and more money for immigration enforcement. "It is ripe for some type of negotiated agreement that gives the president some of his priorities and Democrats some of their priorities. So we think we've opened the door for that," Mulvaney said.
Democrats reacted negatively. "Everything had been moving smoothly until the administration moved in with a heavy hand. Not only are Democrats opposed to the wall, there is significant Republican opposition as well,” said Matt House, a spokesman for Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.
* * *
Should the Trump and the GOP be unable to concede on some of the controversial demands floated in recent days, we expect the shut down odds to rise substantially, and instead of a "massive" tax cut, the most likely outcome may in fact be a closed government starting next weekend, and lasting for the foreseeable future.
The government was last forced to close in October 2013, when Republican Senator Ted Cruz and some of the most conservative House Republicans engineered a 17-day shutdown in an unsuccessful quest to kill Democratic former President Barack Obama's healthcare law. Meanwhile, the current Congress has passed no major legislation since Trump took office in January. Among his ambitions are hopes for major tax-cut legislation, infrastructure spending and other bills.
A federal closure would shutter National Park Service destinations like the Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. Government medical research would be suspended. Thousands of federal workers would be furloughed with thousands more working without pay until the shutdown ends, including homeland security personnel. Some veterans benefits could be suspended.

"Total Chaos" - Cyber Attack Feared As Multiple Cities Hit With Simultaneous Power Grid Failures

The U.S. power grid appears to have been hit with multiple power outages affecting San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles.
Officials report that business, traffic and day-to-day life has come to a standstill in San Francisco, reportedly the worst hit of the three major cities currently experiencing outages.
Power companies in all three regions have yet to elaborate on the cause, though a fire at a substation was the original reason given by San Francisco officials.
A series of subsequent power outages in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City left commuters stranded and traffic backed up on Friday morning. Although the outages occurred around the same time, there is as of yet no evidence that they were connected by anything more than coincidence.

The first outage occurred at around 7:20 a.m. in New York, when the power went down at the 7th Avenue and 53rd Street subway station, which sent a shockwave of significant delays out from the hub and into the rest of the subway system. By 11:30 a.m. the city’s MTA confirmed that generators were running again in the station, although the New York subways were set to run delayed into the afternoon.


Later in the morning, power outages were reported in Los Angeles International Airport, as well as in several other areas around the city.



Via : Inverse

The San Francisco Fire Department was responding to more than 100 calls for service in the Financial District and beyond, including 20 elevators with people stuck inside, but reported no immediate injuries. Everywhere, sirens blared as engines maneuvered along streets jammed with traffic.



Traffic lights were out at scores of intersections, and cars were backing up on downtown streets as drivers grew frustrated and honked at each other.
Via: SF Gate
The cause of the outage has not yet been made clear, though given the current geo-political climate it is not out of the question to suggest a cyber attack could be to blame. It has also been suggested that the current outages could be the result of a secretive nuclear/EMP drill by the federal government.
As we have previously reported, the entire national power grid has been mapped by adversaries of the United States and it is believed that sleep trojans or malware may exist within the computer systems that maintain the grid.
In a 2016 report it was noted that our entire way of life has been left vulnerable to saboteurs who could cause cascading blackouts across the United States for days or weeks at a time:
It isn’t just EMPs and natural disaster that poses a threat to the grid, but there is also the potential for attacks on individual power substations in the vast network of decentralized and largely unguarded power grid chain. A U.S. government study established that there would be “major, extended blackouts if more than three key substations were destroyed.”

Whether by criminals, looters, terrorists, gangs or pranksters, it would take very little to bring down the present system, and there is currently very little the system can do to protect against this wide open threat.
Whether the current outages are the result of a targeted infrastructure cyber attack or simply a coincidence, most Americans think the impossible can’t happen, as The Prepper’s Blueprint author Tess Pennington highlights, a grid-down scenario won’t just be a minor inconvenience if it goes on for more than a day or two:
Consider, for a moment, how drastically your life would change without the continuous flow of energy the grid delivers. While manageable during a short-term disaster, losing access to the following critical elements of our just-in-time society would wreak havoc on the system.

  • Challenges or shut downs of business commerce
  • Breakdown of our basic infrastructure: communications, mass transportation, supply chains
  • Inability to access money via atm machines
  • Payroll service interruptions
  • Interruptions in public facilities – schools, workplaces may close, and public gatherings.
  • Inability to have access to clean drinking water
It is for this reason that we have long encouraged Americans to prepare for this potentially devastating scenario by considering emergency food reserves, clean water reserves and even home defense strategies in the event of a widespread outage. The majority of Americans have about 3 days worth of food in their pantry. Imagine for a moment what Day 4 might look like in any major city that goes dark.

The Simple Reason Why A Second American Civil War May Be Inevitable

Authored by Daniel Lang via SHTFplan.com,

America has always had its divisions, and Americans have never really been a monolith. We’ve always been a nation of many nations. The culture of New England is different from the culture of the Deep South, which is different from the cultures in the West Coast or the Midwest. People living in the cities have different beliefs than people who live in the countryside. Within those areas, there are ethnic, linguistic, and religious enclaves. It’s always kind of been like that (probably to a lesser degree in the past), and somehow we’ve been able to find enough common ground to keep this country together for more than a century.
However, something has changed. You can feel it in the air. Our nation has clearly never been this divided since the Civil War. A lot of people noticed it after the last election, but the truth is that these divisions have been deepening for decades, and they’re just now reaching a very noticeable breaking point. That’s obvious enough when you look at how the left and the right have been going at each other. It used to be a war of words, but it’s turning into something very dark.
Consider what happened last week in Berkeley after Trump supporters and counter protesters clashed for the third time. 21 people were arrested and 11 were injured (that we know of), six of who had to be taken to the hospital. At least one person was stabbed. The police confiscated confiscated knives, stun guns, and poles. One Trump supporter admitted to being surrounded, pepper sprayed, and beaten with sticks by a mob of “protesters.”
But wait, that’s not the dark part. After these groups clashed, the leftist protesters took to Reddit and admitted that they lost this particular battle (I can’t believe I’m using the word “battle” to describe it), and that it was time for them to attain more combat training and better weapons, including firearms.
Do you see what’s going on here? Conservative demonstrations, which used to be placid affairs (remember the Tea Party protests?) are now turning violent as conservatives grow tired of restraining themselves, and are no longer afraid to hit back. Liberal demonstrators are responding by ratcheting up the level of force that they’re going to bring to the next street battle. It’s a tit for tat that keeps escalating, and I shudder to think of where it’s going to end up.
Honestly, I think we’re in the early stages of a second civil war. I can’t say what it’ll look like precisely, but I can tell you that our nation is on this path, and it’s not clear how we can get off of it. In fact, I fear that it may be inevitable, and there’s a very simple reason why.
It’s because Americans have been self-sorting themselves along geographic and political lines for a long time. A book titled “The Big Sort” made light of this trend back in 2008.
Basically what’s going on, is that Americans are moving to communities that align more with their politics. Liberals are moving to liberal areas, and conservatives are moving to conservative communities. It’s been going on for decades. When Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976, 26.8% of Americans lived in landslide counties; that is counties where the president won or lost by 20% of the vote.
By 2004, 48.3% of the population lived in these counties. This trend continues to worsen. As Americans move to their preferred geographic bubbles, they face less exposure to opposing viewpoints, and their own opinions become more extreme. This trend is at the heart of why politics have become so polarizing in America.
We’re also seeing the same trend emerge online with social media. Despite the fact that the internet allows us to be exposed to more opinions that ever before, people choose to follow online voices that they already agree with. They’re slipping into digital bubbles that are comparable to their geographic bubbles.
This trend is irreversible as far as I can tell. That’s because it’s tied to innovation. As our country became more interconnected with roads and Americans gained more mobility, we chose to move to like-minded places. We’re given the internet, the greatest source of information in human history, and we use it to seek out only the information that reinforces our current beliefs.
We’re self-sorting at every level. Because of this, Americans are only going to grow more extreme in their beliefs, and see people on the other side of the political spectrum as more alien.
You can see how this is creating the perfect breeding ground for a real, physical war. The polarization makes it easier to dehumanize the other side. The self-sorting creates definable geographic boundaries that are necessary for a war. It spawns two sides with beliefs that are so divergent, that they cannot coexist.
We’re becoming two distinct nations with two competing visions for what the country should be. Two visions that are diametrically opposed. We used to be a nation of many nations that was held together, because there was still some common ground on what it means to be an American above all else. Now we can’t even agree on that.
Once the last shreds of common ground and understanding dissipate, a moment that is rapidly approaching, another civil war will be impossible to avoid. I wish I knew what the solution is, but I don’t. All I can say is, unless Americans go out of their way to listen to people on other side, whatever that side may be, there’s going to be a lot of blood in the streets.

EndGame Has Begun: Riots, Race War & Revolution