While its aircraft carriers are the flagships of the U.S. Navy, even they are not immune to budget cuts. The sequester agreement, made as part of negotiations to raise the debt ceiling in 2011, delayed a $4 billion contract to start building the second in a series of three Ford-class carriers.
The contract was to be awarded to Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. in September, but will be postponed by as much as a year, U.S. officials say. The estimated cost once the three are completed and outfitted will be $43 billion. Huntington Ingalls received a $4.9 billion deal in 2008 to build the first carrier in the series: uss Gerald R. Ford. Since then, the estimated costs have ballooned 22 percent. Already the most expensive warship ever built, it is projected to cost $12.8 billion when it is christened.
The Navy is attempting to reel in its massive expenditures on upgrading, maintaining and expanding its fleets. The sequester cut most Defense Department budgets by 10 percent. The cuts are deep for the Navy, with talk of an expected shortfall of $14 billion this upcoming fiscal year.
The downfall of the U.S. superpower is intricately tied to its economic decline. As the U.S. continues to fall further into moral degradation, it is burdened with curses such as the economic trials that are weakening the Navy.
Half a million STD diagnoses in the UK
In the United Kingdom, 448,422 new cases of sexually transmitted diseases were diagnosed in 2012, a report by Public Health England showed. Health authorities offer two solutions: “safe sex” and getting tested annually or when one moves on to another partner. Government authorities have been squabbling over what is seen as the main solution: statutory sex education in schools. But the thoroughly vetted, inexpensive, perfect method proven to prevent all sexually transmitted diseases has received little attention: abstinence outside of marriage.
Retaking American streets
After more than a decade of war, the U.S. military is selling off its surplus equipment—particularly tactical vehicles. Its latest customer: local American police forces. Overburdened with an excess of mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles (mraps), the Defense Logistics Agency has practically been giving these $1 million vehicles to any police force that can pay the shipping costs and justify the need. In August and September, 75 of these vehicles were given away to local police departments, according to the dla. Built to withstand mine blasts, improvised explosive devices, and small arms fire, these 19-ton behemoths are now being made available to assist with “active-shooter incidents, swat, and drug interdiction,” according to dla spokeswoman Mimi Schirmacher. With the increase of drug-related and other violence throughout America, streets are becoming war zones, and police are acting accordingly.
Here’s one thing booming during the recession
The U.S. has more than 33,000 gangs with 1.4 million members, the fbi’s 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment reported. These figures represent a 40 percent increase in members and a 65 percent increase in groups since 2009. The fbi says some of this upsurge can be attributed to more accurate reporting methods; nevertheless it is undeniable that gang activity has increased dramatically since the 2008 recession. These 1.4 million active gang members are responsible for 48 percent of the nation’s violent crime.
UK: Deaths from legal highs nearly double
The number of people in England and Wales who died after taking “legal highs” jumped from 29 in 2011 to 52 in 2012, Britain’s Office for National Statistics revealed on August 28. The overall number of deaths related to drug abuse was 1,496, down from 1,605 the previous year. Legal highs are drugs that are usually very similar to illegal drugs, but have been designed by chemists to get around the letter of the law. The UK bans the worst of these drugs, but chemists and drug dealers quickly produce new drugs to replace those outlawed. Because they’re technically legal, they’re easy to obtain and can even be ordered online.