Pentagon, Air Force, Obama say no more F-22$ – Lobbyists want more


$339 million apiece
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

The U.S. Air Force has endorsed the Pentagon in its plan to end production of Lockheed Martin Corp’s top-of-the-line F-22 fighter jets after having pushed to buy more for years.

“This is the time to make the transition from F-22 to F-35 production,” Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and General Norton Schwartz, the service’s top uniformed officer, wrote in an opinion piece in the Washington Post.

Like the F-22 Raptor, Lockheed’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is designed to avoid detection by radar, although it would not fly as fast or as high. The multi-role F-35 is being co-developed with eight countries in three models with an eye to achieving economies of scale…

Lockheed Martin stopped short of saying whether it would give up its lobbying effort to keep the F-22 production line going. Key F-22 subcontractors include Boeing Co, Northrop Grumman Corp and United Technologies Corp’s Pratt & Whitney unit, which supplies the engines.

Frankly, I think most military-industrial contractors are greedy enough that I still expect them to continue to lobby for contracts even if the Air Force says they don’t want the planes.

The Air Force leadership’s reversal on F-22s is likely to fly into turbulence in Congress, which ultimately decides which programs to fund. With plants or suppliers in 44 states, the program counts many fans among lawmakers.

Another polite way of saying our political hacks don’t get their usual perks from contractors unless they deliver the orders.

Plan to change student lending upsets Republicans, banks


Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

The private student lending industry and its allies in Congress are maneuvering to thwart a plan by President Obama to end a subsidized loan program and redirect billions of dollars in bank profits to scholarships for needy students.

Snort! How unAmerican can you get?

The plan is the main money-saving component of Mr. Obama’s education agenda, which includes a sweeping overhaul of financial aid programs. The Congressional Budget Office says replacing subsidized loans made by private banks with direct government lending would save $94 billion over the next decade, money that Mr. Obama would use to expand Pell Grants for the poorest students.

Because it would make spending on Pell Grants mandatory, limiting Congressional control, powerful appropriators are balking at it. Republicans say the plan is proof that Mr. Obama is trying to vastly expand government. Democrats are divided, with lawmakers from districts where lenders are big employers already drawing battle lines.

At the same time, the private loan industry, which would have collapsed without a government rescue last year, has begun lobbying aggressively to save a program that has generated giant profits with very little risk

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Goldman Sachs tries to shut down blog – about Goldman Sachs


President of Goldman Sachs, Gary Cohn
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

The bank has instructed Wall Street law firm Chadbourne & Parke to pursue blogger Mike Morgan, warning him in a recent cease-and-desist letter that he may face legal action if he does not close down his website.

Florida-based Mr Morgan began a blog entitled “Facts about Goldman Sachs” – just a few weeks ago.

In that time Mr Morgan, a registered investment adviser, has added a number of posts to the site, including one entitled “Does Goldman Sachs run the world?“. However, many of the posts relate to other Wall Street firms and issues.

According to Chadbourne & Parke’s letter, dated April 8, the bank is rattled because the site “violates several of Goldman Sachs’ intellectual property rights” and also “implies a relationship” with the bank itself.

Unsurprisingly for a man who has conjoined the bank’s name with the Number of the Beast – although he jokingly points out that 666 was also the S&P500’s bear-market bottom – Mr Morgan is unlikely to go down without a fight.

Good for you, dude. Poisonally, I think the 666 is a nice touch.

N.Y. police told to respect photographers

The New York Police Department says photographers and tourists have the legal right to photograph public places and sites.

The New York Post said Monday that an operations order sent out by New York police to its officers in response to complaints details that most photographic activities in the city are “rarely unlawful. Photography and the videotaping of public places, buildings and structures are common activities within New York City … and is rarely unlawful,” the NYPD order says.

Donna Lieberman, New York Civil Liberties Union president, applauded the police order, telling the Post, it is an act of progress that will protect innocent individuals when taking photographs in the city.

Maybe protect a few news photographers from getting their heads busted in the course of their jobs.

Laptop with secret info missing. Encrypted? Har!

The computer, which was not encrypted, went missing during a recent exercise in Britain.

It was being used by the Signals Regiment – who were attached to the elite force based in Hereford.

According to a source, it held sensitive information about the regiment’s military and counter-terrorism manoeuvres.

The loss came to light after military chiefs carried out a routine audit of kit and realised the computer was missing…But Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox said the loss was “deeply concerning”.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: “We can confirm that we are investigating the possible loss of a hard drive, containing only unclassified information which was being used on a training exercise. We are carrying out our inquiries into what happened.”

Don’t you just love that stiff upper lip crappola? Maybe if they screamed bloody murder incompetent IT security management might be diminished?

Right-wing politician upset over “gay” elephant

A Polish politician has criticized his local zoo for acquiring a “gay” elephant named Ninio who prefers male companions and will probably not procreate.

“We didn’t pay 37 million zlotys ($11 million) for the largest elephant house in Europe to have a gay elephant live there,” Michal Grzes, a conservative councilor in the city of Poznan in western Poland, was quoted as saying.

“We were supposed to have a herd, but as Ninio prefers male friends over females how will he produce offspring?” said Grzes, who is from the right-wing opposition Law and Justice party.

The elephant is young enough that he might just not be interested in sex at all – yet.

Obviously that’s about the only topic consuming the passions of this right-wing political hack.

What iPhone Apps are used most? Bet you thought it was games

When it comes to the type of applications iPhone owners use most, ones for checking the weather trump games, music, news and everything else.

According to an upcoming report on smartphone usage by online market research firm Compete, 39% of iPhone users cited weather-related apps as one of the three kinds of applications they use most frequently. (The Weather Channel app specifically was cited by 13%.)

A quarter of iPhone users said Facebook’s was one of three apps they accessed most often, followed by game apps, at 20%. More than 10% pointed to music-related apps. After that, the more than 100 individual apps or types of apps cited by users fell to single-digit percentages, with most less than 2%…

The Compete survey showed that the kinds of apps downloaded most aren’t necessarily the ones used most often. Games and entertainment were the most popular categories of downloads cited by iPhone users, at 79% and 78%, respectively. Weather apps were third at 57%…

Games was also the top category for all smartphone users, with 37% having downloaded game apps, followed by music at 28% and entertainment at 26%. Weather was fourth at 24%.

Pricing on apps for all smartphones appears to hit a barrier at $10, with more than three-quarters of purchases falling below that level. “That seems to be the price-point up to which it’s a no-brainer,” said Nohe. “After that, it becomes a purchase decision.”

Makes sense to me. Interesting article – except for the typos which can change the meaning of a sentence. 🙂

Florida town’s ban on droopy drawers challenged in court


So, they’re only arresting guys?

As fashion statements go, the young men’s “sagging pants” look, with trousers slung low enough to reveal a generous swath of boxer shorts, has some lamentable drawbacks.

For one thing, it can veer perilously close to the ultimate wardrobe crisis for a man: a sudden drop of trousers to the ankles. Then there is the legal issue. In this tiny beachfront town [Riviera Beach] 70 miles north of Miami, the look is against the law…

Other cities, including Lynwood, Ill., and Flint, Mich., have passed similar measures, but none appear to have pursued violators as energetically as Riviera Beach. Since the law took effect last July, 15 to 20 young men have been charged with violating the ordinance, defense lawyers say.

But with many of the cases pending, the Office of the Palm Beach County Public Defender last week challenged the ordinance on constitutional grounds…

Mayor Thomas Masters, a Baptist minister, said in an interview that Riviera Beach voters “just got tired of having to look at people’s behinds or their undergarments,” but the public defenders argued that sagging pants were a constitutionally protected expression of identity…

On Singer Island, Bart Berling, the owner of Mother Nature’s Cafe, also questioned the sense of outlawing low-slung pants. “I was young in the ’60s, when people started wearing their hair real long,” Mr. Berling said. He does not like the style, he said, “but as long as they ain’t naked, what’s the point?”

IMHO, people have the right to look as silly as they wish to.

Oil Giants won’t follow Obama’s green lead – maybe they need a nudge?

The Obama administration wants to reduce oil consumption, increase renewable energy supplies and cut carbon dioxide emissions in the most ambitious transformation of energy policy in a generation.

But the world’s oil giants are not convinced that it will work. Even as Washington goes into a frenzy over energy, many of the oil companies are staying on the sidelines, balking at investing in new technologies favored by the president, or even straying from commitments they had already made.

Royal Dutch Shell said last month that it would freeze its research and investments in wind, solar and hydrogen power, and focus its alternative energy efforts on biofuels. The company had already sold much of its solar business and pulled out of a project last year to build the largest offshore wind farm, near London.

This is followed by a load of baloney designed to portray these robber barons as thoughtful and cautious. You can read it in the article. We hear enough of it. You probably could write it.

The administration wants to spend $150 billion over the next decade to create what it calls “a clean energy future.” Its plan would aim to diversify the nation’s energy sources by encouraging more renewables, and it would reduce oil consumption and cut carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

The oil companies have frequently run advertisements expressing their interest in new forms of energy, but their actual investments have belied the marketing claims. The great bulk of their investments goes to traditional petroleum resources, including carbon-intensive energy sources like tar sands and natural gas from shale, while alternative investments account for a tiny fraction of their spending. So far, that has changed little under the Obama administration.

The scale of their alternative investments is so mind-numbingly small that it’s hard to find them,” said Nathanael Greene, a senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “These companies don’t feel they have to be on the leading edge of this stuff…”

One issue not addressed in the article is that Big Oil considers handouts from federal governments to be a renewable resource – for them. The billion$ in excess profits they acquire during each price bump means nothing on their ethical ledger. They’ve always had hat-in-hand wimps like George 2nd in office ready to lead Congress and other derelict corners of the political gene-pool into increasing the national debt on behalf of the largest most profitable corporations.

From now on – screw ’em!

Court fines mother for stalking her son

An Austrian woman who bombarded her son with phone calls over a two-and-a-half year period was fined by a court for stalking him, Austrian media reported.

The 73-year-old woman, who phoned her son up to 49 times a day was fined 360 euros ($478) by the court in the southern city of Klagenfurt.

“I just wanted to talk to him,” the woman told the court, according to Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung. “I can’t talk to my son, nor my daughter. I’ve never seen my grandchild — who is already 15-years-old,” she said.

The case was brought by the son.

Which generation is the most neurotic?