As the US military continues to try to disengage from the Middle East and draw down, the country's defense budget continues to fall.
In 2015, the US' estimated military budget is expected to be $601 billion, down from $610 billion spent in 2014. However, even with the budgetary drawdown, the US still far outspends the next six?highest spending nations.?
The following graphic shows the immensity of the US' defense budget on the world stage compared to the rest of the world:?
Skye Gould/Business Insider
According to the latest information from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the US budget dwarfed military spending of the next six highest spending countries. China, which had the world's second largest military budget, spent just over a third of what the US did in 2014.?
The US' military budget is reflected in the country's assumed international responsibilities. The US is the leading economic and military power in NATO.?As such, the US?made up approximately 2/3s of NATO's entire defense budget despite the presence of an additional 27 countries in the organization.?
The comparative?size of the US military budget is shown in the graphic below, which compares the 2015 budget to a range of other big expenditures:??
Skye Gould/Business Insider
The military budget is by far the largest single cost?displayed. It is almost six times larger than the 2015 education budget and it is more than 34 times the size of NASA's 2015 operating budget. In total, the costs of running the military amount to approximately 16% of the overall 2015 US budget.
Sneakers at the office — all the cool kids are doing it.?But for one reason or another, you still haven't taken the leap. We're here to give you a push.?
Basically, if other people at the office are wearing sneakers, you can, too. But the presence of sneakers at your workplace does not give you carte blanche to wear any old thing.?
Keep it simple and look for?a classic silhouette?with a solid color?and understated design. High- and mid-tops are easier to wear around the office, but low-cut shoes are great for summer.?
Here are some of the trendiest choices that tick all of our work-appropriate boxes and can be had for as little as $60.
Most leather shoes have a place at work, and leather sneakers are no different.?Subtle, cool, and comfortable, these all-leather, stark white New Balance 574's are great for just about any office.
Simple is the name of the game. These Common Projects Tournament?shoes are like a high-end Converse All-Star, only more minimalist and presented in luxe suede. In a bright tan, these sneakers might even get confused for a pair of cupsole chukka boots — a serious plus.
Adidas' Stan Smiths might get?played out, but that's only because they're so versatile. In a pristine white interrupted only by a strip of leather on the heel and a graphic on the tongue,?this shoe is perfect for casual summer Fridays. Pair them with cuffed denim and you're good to go.?
Leather may be the office favorite, but canvas is still in the game. A?plain blue canvas shoe like this?Vans x J Crew collaboration is more than work appropriate. Though it loses points for the offensive branding, it makes up for it with its skater-kid-goes-yachting-for-the-day vibe. ?
A sportier look can be worn to work, but only if it has a retro lean. This Nike Internationalist is a far cry from the running shoes that?have elbowed their way into?the realm of casual attire. It's a casual sneaker with a hint of sportiness. After all, you're not literally running from meeting to meeting.
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ANKARA/LONDON (Reuters) - Britain moved closer to military action in Syria as a senior minister on Saturday said Europe's migration crisis had to be tackled at its source and a newspaper said a parliamentary vote on bombing Islamic State militants in Syria could take place next month.
Finance minister George Osborne said Britain and Europe had to find a way to tackle the conflict in Syria as well as provide asylum to those genuinely fleeing persecution.
"You've got to deal with the problem at source, which is this evil Assad regime and the ISIL (Islamic State) terrorists, and you need a comprehensive plan for a more stable, peaceful Syria," Osborne told Reuters in an interview.
"A huge challenge of course, but you can't just let that crisis fester. We've got to get engaged in that."
The Sunday Times newspaper said British Prime Minister David Cameron wanted to hold a vote in parliament in early October to pave the way for air strikes against Islamic State in Syria.
He was also seeking to launch a military and intelligence offensive against people traffickers, the newspaper said, quoting senior officials.
French newspaper Le Monde reported earlier on Saturday that France was considering conducting air strikes on Islamic State in Syria, joining an international coalition led by the United States.
Cameron, under pressure to take more action in response to the migration crisis in Europe, said on Friday that the country would welcome "thousands more" Syrian refugees.
The Sunday Times said Cameron was prepared to accept 15,000 refugees from camps located close to Syria.
His government has come under pressure to do more to address the crisis following the publication of images of a Syrian toddler lying dead on a Turkish beach, which led to a public outpouring of emotion.
Osborne, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of G20 finance chiefs in Turkey on Saturday, said the British government would provide more details of its plans next week.
"Yes, we must offer asylum to those who are genuinely fleeing persecution. Countries like Britain always have, we are one of the founders of the asylum system. We will take, as the prime minister said, thousands more," he said.
"But at the same time, you've got to make sure you've got aid going into the refugee camps on the borders ... We've got to defeat these criminal gangs who trade in human misery and risk people's lives and kill people."
Resolving the migration crisis also means dealing with the problem of President Bashar al-Assad's "evil" administration in Syria and Islamic State, Osborne said.
Cameron has suggested he would like to ask Britain's parliament to vote to join the U.S.-led air strikes on Islamic State militants in Syria, after lawmakers rejected military strikes in Syria in 2013.
However, the prime minister said on Friday he would only proceed with a fresh vote in parliament if there was a "genuine consensus" in Britain about bombing Islamic State in Syria.
Some British media interpreted the comment as a sign of concern on the part of Cameron that the opposition Labour Party would not support such a move if its leadership race is won by Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing front-runner and an outspoken critic of Britain's role in the war in Iraq.?
(Writing by William Schomberg in London and Nick Tattersall in Ankara; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
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SeaWorld hasn't had a lot of wins lately, but the worst could be over.
After two?years of a seemingly nonstop stream of bad press and negative sentiment, analysts at Credit Suisse argue that the company's brand may have hit rock bottom and that a comeback may be in order.
Their analysis includes a dive into all of the mentions of SeaWorld on the internet.
"We believe two events were the main contributors to the 400% spike in mentions and 13% increase in negative commentary month-over-month," said Credit Suisse's note. "Namely, 1) allegations that a SeaWorld employee acted as an undercover member of activist group PETA and 2) One Direction lead singer, Harry Styles, urged all of his fans to boycott SeaWorld during a concert in San Diego."
The ratio of positive to negative online comments was at?-68% in July, down 28 percentage points since the prior month. In fact, according to Credit Suisse, the Styles boycott call has led to the most negative comments?for the company over the past three?years.
"We recognized that fully resolving our brand challenges in California will require sustained focus and commitment,"?SeaWorld?CEO Joel Manby said in the company's?latest quarterly earnings call.?"Let me assure you that we remain steadfast in our efforts to overcome these challenges and to improve the performance of the company."
Accompanying all of this negative sentiment has been a turn for the worse in the company's financials. After making a recovery from lows during the Great Recession, when many families chose to forgo vacations and theme parks, SeaWorld has seen a drop in profits and attendance.
The downturn started with a documentary
The bad news surged?in 2013, when CNN aired the documentary "Blackfish" detailing supposed abuses and poor conditions at?the parks for their marquee?attractions, trained orcas.
In 2012, the company posted a profit of $74.2 million for the year. A year later that number that dropped to $51.9 million, and in 2014?it slid further to $49.9 million.
This has continued, with revenue dropping 3% in the second quarter of 2015 from the same time period during the year before.
Attendance also has suffered, falling?from 24.39 million in 2012 to 22.40 million in 2014, a drop of just over?8%.
Along with profits, the stock?price of the company has plummeted from its high of $38.88 in mid-2013 to $17.74 as of the opening Thursday, nearly a 55%?plunge.
According to the analysts at Credit Suisse, this may all be coming back around.?It should be noted that the same analysts made this call in June, before the new spike?of negative sentiment.
Setting up for?a comeback
In March, the company's new management launched a brand-rehabilitation campaign and is expected to roll out a new strategic vision in November.
"Perhaps we need to get a little more current on the latest boy bands; however, while this could negatively impact SEAS' core demographic in San Diego, we don’t believe it's too late for SEAS to rectify its brand impairment issues, particularly as their reputation campaign (launched in March) gains traction,"?the analysts said.
As part of this plan SeaWorld has launched a new ad campaign and devoted $10 million to research and conservation for orcas. The note also mentions that this aggressive brand rehabilitation is vastly different than the relatively mum response the company had to the "Blackfish" documentary.
In making the?case for a brighter future, the Credit Suisse analysts pointed to a few different brands that have suffered from terrible PR and?bounced back, including Carnival after the Concordia ship crash and Tylenol after someone in Chicago?laced bottles of the?medicine with?cyanide?in 1982.
Additionally, tourism in Orlando, one of SeaWorld's key markets, has?continued to?increase, and the company's ticket prices are significantly cheaper than Disney and Universal parks in the area.
The combination of factors has the analysts optimistic with a $27 price?target for the stock. It's currently trading just below $18.
"While we don't expect brand related issues to dissolve overnight and realize steering sentiment in the opposite direction will be a multi-step operation, it is our opinion that should SEAS illustrate a plan to re-position their brand, investors will be able to gain more comfort on the viability of the business long-term."
Service and composite PMI figures for?Europe came out on Thursday, and the key takeaway is this: Germany is driving Europe forward, while France is dragging Europe?back.
The overall Eurozone PMI beat forecasts.
The?purchasing managers' index (PMI) is a measure of whether economies and sectors are expanding or contracting. Anything above 50 signals growth, while anything below signals contraction.
Europe's PMI was 54.3, against a forecast of 54.1. That was driven by Germany beating forecasts by a big margin — an upward revision of an entire point (55 from 54).
We already had a positive flash readings for August, but?Germany is doing even better than first thought.
France, meanwhile, is doing much worse. France's flash PMI was 51.3, but on Thursday?that got revised way down to 50.2 — more or less stagnation and dangerously close to slipping into decline.
We've already had dreadful manufacturing figures from France earlier this week,?with French industry shrinking faster than expected. The service sector is similarly in a worse shape than economists expected — the PMI there was just 50.6, against a forecast of 51.8.
It's not looking good for France.
That effectively means we're looking at a two-tier Europe, one in which?the two biggest players are moving in completely different gears.
Right now the "single market" can trundle along as it has been. But this imbalance could cause serious problems further down the line, particularly as?Germany has so much power in Europe and a tendency?to push tough reforms on those foolish enough to fall into trouble. I made this point when the manufacturing numbers came out.
Here's the breakdown of the PMI figures we got from Markit on Thursday:
- Europe: composite — 54.3, forecast 54.1; services — 54.4, forecasts 54.3.
- Spain: services — 59.6, in-line with forecasts.
- Italy: services — 54.6, beating forecast of 53.
- France: composite — 50.2, flash was 51.3; services — 50.6, 51.8 predicted; .
- Germany: composite — 55, flash 54 — services — 54.9, 53.6 predicted.