HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » unhappycamper » Journal
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 36 Next »


Profile Information

Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 11:12 AM
Number of posts: 60,364

Journal Archives

Here's how the Pentagon screwed up the F-35 program


Here's how the Pentagon screwed up the F-35 program
Jill R. Aitoro
Mar 4, 2014, 11:20am EST Updated: Mar 4, 2014, 12:20pm EST

We've all heard about how Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F-35 program is over budget and hitting its fair share of functionality roadblocks. Here are a few reasons why — and they have little to do with Lockheed.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., called the $400 billion F-35 program "the poster child for doing procurement the wrong way." But how so? More than a decade ago, the Pentagon seemed to start off right, whittling the options down to Boeing and Lockheed and eventually choosing the latter after a fly-off.


Some of the bigger mistakes? Setting up a Joint Program Office that "often ignores NAVAIR and Air Force Materiel Command, who actually know how to build and buy airplanes," said Rebecca Grant, president of D.C.-based IRIS Independent Research and director of the General William Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies, a nonprofit research arm of the Air Force Association.

Also, combining three programs — the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps — into one, which made it look like a cost behemoth, while also requiring all three service buyers to agree on technical steps, from flight worthiness to software priorities. That point from Grant echoes the findings of a recent report from Rand Corp., which questioned the theory that building different versions on a common base will reduce costs.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Mar 31, 2014, 09:15 AM (0 replies)

S. Korea’s F-35 buy: Good news for Cobb, for country, for company


S. Korea’s F-35 buy: Good news for Cobb, for country, for company
March 30, 2014 12:00 AM

Last week’s announcement that South Korea plans to buy 40 copies of the advanced F-35 Lighting II fighter jet came as good news for Cobb County, good news for this country and good news for the plane’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin.

It was good news for Cobb because the center-wing assembly of the jet is assembled at Lockheed Martin’s vast aviation plant in Marietta. It’s good news for the country because it lowers the overall per-plane cost of the program, and hence saves taxpayers money. And it’s good for Lockheed for obvious reasons.

About 330 people now work on the F-35 program at the Marietta plant, a number estimated to grow to 1,000 when the program reaches full production late in this decade. A “stealth” coating is applied to parts of the plane, including its doors and panels, at the plant here. The center-wing assemblies, or “boxes,” are then trucked to Lockheed’s plant in Texas where final assembly takes place. It will be flown by the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.


Meantime, the sales to foreign countries are expected to drop the plane’s per-unit cost from the present $100 million each to $85 million, which in turn could make them more affordable for the U.S. military as well.


"$100 million each" Really?

Even wikipedia (notoriously low on military hardware) sez:


Unit cost
F-35A: US$153.1 million (Flyaway cost, 2013)[6]
F-35B: US$196.5M (flyaway cost, 2012)[7]
F-35C: US$199.4M (flyaway cost, 2013)[7]

This camper sez the F-35 will cost at least $247 million a pop.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Mar 31, 2014, 09:11 AM (0 replies)

Big pharma’s relationship with your doctor needs some U.S.-style sunshine


Big pharma’s relationship with your doctor needs some U.S.-style sunshine
Andrew Boozary and Joel Lexchin
Contributed to The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Mar. 26 2014, 7:39 AM EDT
Last updated Wednesday, Mar. 26 2014, 12:41 PM EDT

Ours can be an overly polite country. If the recent Senate spending scandal taught us anything, it’s the value of openness in financial relations. Our American neighbors have come to understand this (somewhat), and now believe that such transparency should not be confined to Congressmen or Wall Street. Lost in the rancor surrounding the Affordable Care Act is a piece of legislation that leans on transparency to enlighten and safeguard patients from conflicts of interest. It’s titled the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, and it’s a rather unapologetic take on a relationship Canada has been relatively bashful about.

By the end of this year, President Barack Obama’s Sunshine Act will have drug companies report virtually every transfer of value to doctors and academic hospitals. With payments of as little as $10 dollars to be listed on a public website, this marks a serious undertaking in the world’s most sophisticated pharmaceutical market.

So, why exactly is the government going through all this?

The idea is to have any financial biases in the physician’s office out in the open. This might help ensure that the most responsible decisions are being made for the patient – and the patient only. While doctors are hard pressed to believe that pens or souvlaki lunches can alter their own prescription patterns, there are numerous studies to suggest otherwise. And the issue is not just your physician’s own pen, it’s also pharma’s influence on the experts who set the standards of care. In a recent commentary for the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. John Ioannidis pointed out that over half of the panelists on the American Heart Association guideline committee had financial ties with industry – this for recommendations that could see more than one billion people taking statins by 2020. Factor in a projected $1-trillion worth of statin sales and it’s easy to see what’s at stake: people and profits.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Mar 31, 2014, 08:14 AM (2 replies)

Citigroup Failed to Pass the Stress Tests


Citigroup Failed to Pass the Stress Tests
Le Monde, France
By Stéphane Lauer
Translated By Michael Krimian
27 March 2014
Edited by Gillian Palmer

That is what one calls a slap. Amid the series of stress tests the Federal Reserve runs on the big American banks, on March 26, five of them have been judged too feeble to allow themselves to increase their dividends and proceed to buy their own shares.

Citigroup, the third largest bank in terms of assets, is among the bad bunch, along with three big foreign bank branches — the British HSBC and RBS, and the Spanish Santander. Zions Bancorporation, a small bank in Utah, is also part of the blacklist.

Severe Scenarios

About 30 establishments have been subjected by the Fed to a series of financial crisis scenarios to test their soundness. These measures follow the Dodd-Frank law on Wall Street reform. This legislation was implemented after the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in September 2008, in order to avoid using public funds once again to keep the financial sphere afloat.

Only the most important banks, with more than $50 billion of assets in the United States, are concerned, that is to say, the entities considered "too big to fail," and whose demise endangers the financial system.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Mar 31, 2014, 07:50 AM (3 replies)

UN vote shows strains in Delhi's diplomacy


UN vote shows strains in Delhi's diplomacy
By Ramesh Ramachandran
Mar 31, '14

In a departure from its familiar voting pattern on UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolutions critical of Sri Lanka, India on March 27 abstained from a vote on a resolution approving an independent international investigation into war crimes and human-rights violations allegedly committed by the government of Sri Lanka during the 2009 civil war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE.)

The customary "explanation of vote" by the permanent representative of India to the UN offices in Geneva said, among other things, that:
1. "In asking the OHCHR [the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights ] to investigate, assess and monitor the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, the resolution ignores the progress already made by the country in this field and places in jeopardy the cooperation currently taking place between the Government of Sri Lanka and the OHCHR and the Council's Special Procedures. Besides, the resolution is inconsistent and impractical in asking both the Government of Sri Lanka and the OHCHR to simultaneously conduct investigations";
2. "India believes that it is imperative for every country to have the means of addressing human rights violations through robust national mechanisms. The Council's efforts should therefore be in a direction to enable Sri Lanka to investigate all allegations of human rights violations through comprehensive, independent and credible national investigative mechanisms and bring to justice those found guilty. Sri Lanka should be provided all assistance it desires in a cooperative and collaborative manner"; and
3. "It has been India's firm belief that adopting an intrusive approach that undermines national sovereignty and institutions is counterproductive."

After having voted for UNHRC resolutions on Sri Lanka in 2012 and 2013, India's abstention this year on the resolution presented by the US early in March is indicative of a course correction in New Delhi's engagement with Colombo. This is aimed at retrieving the ground lost in the intervening years, burnishing India's credentials as a relevant player in the island nation's affairs and signaling a return to bilateralism as the centerpiece of India-Sri Lanka ties (not necessarily in that order).

If India's support for the resolutions in the previous years exposed an utter bankruptcy of ideas on how to engage with Sri Lanka (thereby implicitly admitting to a failure on the part of New Delhi either to influence the course of events or bring about the desired change in Colombo's disposition), the abstention should be seen as a belated attempt to pull the relationship back from the brink. Of course, it helped that the reaction from the regional parties was muted this year, giving New Delhi extra room for maneuver, and enabling it in the process to regain its voice vis-a-vis the states on foreign policy matters.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Mar 31, 2014, 07:32 AM (0 replies)

Crimean conquest shows China the way


Crimean conquest shows China the way
By Euan Graham
Mar 31, '14

Moscow's annexation of Crimea and continuing tensions over Ukraine are being felt primarily as a crisis in European and US relations with Russia. Yet Russia's challenge to the international order has global ramifications that extend to East Asia. Implications for the region can be understood in terms of three broad categories: demonstration, distraction, and disruption.

Some of Moscow's East Asian neighbors may be concerned about the direct threat that a revived, recidivist Russia could turn its focus toward them. The reality, however, is that Moscow is more concerned with maintaining its territory east of the Urals than expansionist adventures. Russia's Far Eastern demographic decline is especially pronounced, while its borders are largely fixed.


The "demonstration" value of Russia's recent actions, although indirect and contingent, carries more serious implications for East Asia. China is not the only relevant regional audience, but it is the most important given Beijing's prickly relations with the West, its budding partnership with Moscow, and rising territorial tensions with other Asian neighbors.

With the UN Security Council immobilized by Russia's permanent veto, Moscow has shown, first, that it can use undeclared military force against a neighboring state with virtual impunity, in open defiance of past treaty commitments and Western protests. Secondly, the March 16, 2014, referendum in Crimea and its rapid incorporation into the Russian Federation presented the West with a fait accompli "land grab" that poses fundamental challenges to the international order.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Mar 31, 2014, 07:25 AM (0 replies)

The Kerry-Lavrov chess match


The Kerry-Lavrov chess match
By Pepe Escobar
Mar 31, '14

It's hardly a match between equals - as one is playing Monopoly while the other plays chess. It's as if Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has been postponing his checkmate, while US Secretary of State John Kerry increasingly realizes he's facing the inevitable.

Lavrov has explained over and over again, a loose federation is the only possible solution for Ukraine, as part of a "deep constitutional reform". That would imply ethnic - and even sentimentally - Russian eastern and southern Ukraine would be largely autonomous. Kerry gave signs of agreeing around two weeks ago that Ukrainian regions need more decision power; but then the White House recharged its moral blitzkrieg - coinciding with President Barack Obama's trip to The Hague and Brussels. Still, even after an inconclusive four-hour Kerry-Lavrov chess match in Paris, there will be a checkmate.

The Russian solution is the same plan proposed by Moscow already a few weeks ago, and again discussed on the phone by Obama and President Vladimir Putin on Friday - which prompted Kerry to redirect his flight to Paris. Each Ukrainian region, according to Lavrov, would be able to control its economy, taxes, culture, language, education and "external economic and cultural connections with neighboring countries or regions". That's such a sound plan that even former - or perennial, depending on spin - cold warriors such as Henry Kissinger and Zbig Brzezinski reasonably agree.

The key problem is that Washington immovably considers the present Kiev set up - also known as the Khaganate of Nulands, as in State Department Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nulands - as legitimate. Moscow sees them as a bunch of putschists and fascists. And Washington still refuses to press Kiev to accept a federal system - thus allowing, among other things, Russian as an official second language.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Mar 31, 2014, 07:22 AM (1 replies)

Walmart Admits that its Business Model Requires Employees to Depend on Food Stamps


Critics cite irony of annual report filing: ‘This is a company that everywhere it goes it creates poverty’

Walmart Admits that its Business Model Requires Employees to Depend on Food Stamps
By Juan Cole | Mar. 31, 2014
(By Lauren McCauley)

[ Walmart employees are known to be among biggest Medicaid and Food Stamp recipients in over half of the states. - JRIC]

Although a notorious recipient of "corporate welfare," Walmart has now admitted that their massive profits also depend on the funding of food stamps and other public assistance programs.

In their annual report, filed with the Security and Exchange Commission last week, the retail giant lists factors that could potentially harm future profitability. Listed among items such as "economic conditions" and "consumer confidence," the company writes that changes in taxpayer-funded public assistance programs are also a major threat to their bottom line.


Walmart, the nation's largest private employer, is notorious for paying poverty wages and coaching employees to take advantage of social programs. In many states, Walmart employees are the largest group of Medicaid recipients.

However, this report is the first public acknowledgement of the chain's reliance on the funding of these programs to sustain a profit.


Consumer Reports did an article this month rating grocery stores in the US - guess who came in dead last?

Walmart Superstores.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Mar 31, 2014, 07:11 AM (2 replies)

New Alabama food truck regulations prevent local churches from feeding the homeless


New Alabama food truck regulations prevent local churches from feeding the homeless
By Scott Kaufman
Sunday, March 30, 2014 14:05 EDT

Food truck regulations that went into effect on January 1, 2014 are preventing churches in Birmingham, Alabama from feeding the homeless.

Minister Rick Wood of the Lords House of Prayer told ABC 3340 that police informed him that he would not be able to provide food for the homeless in Linn Park unless he owned a food truck and possessed a permit from the health department.

“That makes me so mad,” Wood said. “These people are hungry. They’re starving. They need help from people. They can’t afford to buy something from a food truck.”

Wood attempted to argue with the officers, claiming that the regulations only apply to trucks from which food is sold, but was told that the ordinances apply to all food vehicles, even ones which sport Matthew 25, 35-40 on their sides.

Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Mar 31, 2014, 06:38 AM (4 replies)

New evidence shows the Black Death had to have been airborne — and not caused by rat fleas


New evidence shows the Black Death had to have been airborne — and not caused by rat fleas
By Vanessa Thorpe, The Observer
Sunday, March 30, 2014 9:12 EDT

Archaeologists and forensic scientists who have examined 25 skeletons unearthed in the Clerkenwell area of London a year ago believe they have uncovered the truth about the nature of the Black Death that ravaged Britain and Europe in the mid-14th century.

Analysis of the bodies and of wills registered in London at the time has cast doubt on “facts” that every schoolchild has learned for decades: that the epidemic was caused by a highly contagious strain spread by the fleas on rats.

Now evidence taken from the human remains found in Charterhouse Square, to the north of the City of London, during excavations carried out as part of the construction of the Crossrail train line, have suggested a different cause: only an airborne infection could have spread so fast and killed so quickly.

The Black Death arrived in Britain from central Asia in the autumn of 1348 and by late spring the following year it had killed six out of every 10 people in London. Such a rate of destruction would kill five million now. By extracting the DNA of the disease bacterium, Yersinia pestis, from the largest teeth in some of the skulls retrieved from the square, the scientists were able to compare the strain of bubonic plague preserved there with that which was recently responsible for killing 60 people in Madagascar. To their surprise, the 14th-century strain, the cause of the most lethal catastrophe in recorded history, was no more virulent than today’s disease. The DNA codes were an almost perfect match.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Mar 31, 2014, 06:30 AM (4 replies)
Go to Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 36 Next »