By Alan W. Dowd

Trade Troubles

The U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement is languishing, even though the deal would expand U.S. exports by as much as $10 billion annually.

Worse, as the U.S. drags its feet on finalizing the deal with longtime ally South Korea, the European Union has swooped in to ink an agreement with South Korea that is nearly identical to the U.S.-Korea pact. Canada also is negotiating a trade deal with South Korea.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that “failure to implement the U.S.-Korea FTA while our trading partners go forward with their FTAs with Korea would lead to a decline of $35.1 billion in U.S. exports of goods and services to the world” and a net negative impact on U.S. employment of 345,017 jobs.

Find out more at uschamber.com.

Take This Job

In its latest survey of American workers, the Conference Board, a business and management association, finds that just 45 percent of Americans are satisfied with their jobs—the lowest percentage ever recorded in the survey’s 22-year history. The exhaustive survey enfolds 5,000 U.S. households.

In 2008, 49 percent reported satisfaction with their work. In 1987, when the first survey was conducted, 61 percent were satisfied with their work. Not coincidentally, the percentage of Americans who find their work interesting has fallen from 70 percent in 1987 to 51 percent in the latest survey.

The overall trend for job satisfaction is down and appears to be disconnected from economic cycles: 61 percent satisfied in 1987, 58 percent in 1995, 50 percent in 2000, 52 percent in 2005 and 25 percent in 2009.

In addition, the Conference Board reports that 22 percent of respondents said they don’t expect to be in their current job next year.

“Widespread job dissatisfaction negatively affects employee behavior and retention,” according to John Gibbons, program director of employee engagement research and services at the Conference Board.

Find out more at http://www.conference-board.org/.

Help for Yemen

CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus reports that counterterrorism funding for Yemen will more than double in 2010. “Last year, it was somewhere around $70 million,” he said. “Over the course of this fiscal year, it should be somewhere around $150 million.”

Armed Forces Press Service reports this category of funding for Yemen has exploded in recent years, jumping from $4.6 million in 2006 to $26 million in 2007 to the estimated $150 million in 2010.

Parachutes 2.0

The Army is replacing its 50-year-old parachute system. The new T-11 parachute, which will replace the T-10 model over the next five years, can handle 400 pounds of weight (rather than just 360 pounds), offers a better canopy and has a proven record of reducing injury rates in testing, National Defense magazine reports.

The new system, designed by Airborne Systems of New Jersey, also positions the reserve handle in the center of the pack, enabling troops to “yank it with either hand,” according to National Defense.


The Pentagon is pressing weapons developers to deliver a new bomb to penetrate underground targets encased by as much as 10,000 pounds of reinforced concrete. The “massive ordnance penetrator,” or MOP, will be the largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. inventory, AP reports.

The new bomb will carry 5,300 pounds of explosives and fly aboard a B-2. It should be ready by summer 2010.

When asked if the bomb is needed for possible operations against Iranian or North Korean targets, a Pentagon spokesman demurred, calling the MOP “a capability we think is necessary given the world we live in.”

As a contributing editor to The American Legion Magazine, Dowd writes columns and news briefs on national security, foreign affairs and U.S. politics each month for the magazine's "Rapid Fire" section.