‘Never request permission to start a revolution’

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

As the elderly white woman approached the four Black students at the Woolworth’s whites-only lunch counter, Franklin McCain braced for the worst.

“I was thinking to myself, she must have knitting needles and scissors in that handbag of hers and they’re about to go right through me,” McCain recalled. “I mean, we were invading her space, a space we were told we could not inhabit.”

Fifty years ago today, McCain and three other freshmen at North Carolina A&T University took a stand by sitting at the lunch counter in the national chain’s Greensboro, North Carolina, store.

The store had no qualms selling toothpaste or light bulbs to Blacks, but a cup of coffee at the lunch counter? Out of the question. The Greensboro Four, as they came to be known, were fed up.

Instead of pulling a knitting needle on the young men, the woman placed her hand on McCain’s shoulder and smiled warmly.

“She says, ‘Boys, I am so proud of you. I only regret that you didn’t do this 10 years ago,’ ” McCain said.

“That was the greatest source of inspiration to me, probably for all my life, primarily because it came from a very unexpected person,” he said. “You picture 1960 in the South in a little old white lady’s space and you are acting out of place, and she compliments you.”

McCain, Joseph McNeil, Ezell Blair Jr. and David Richmond were refused service February 1, 1960, but they sat their ground.

The Greensboro Four’s act of civil defiance was commemorated today with the grand opening of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro. Three members of the Greensboro Four will attend the ceremony without their companion Richmond, who died in 1990 at age 49.

RTFA. A piece of American history that won’t cease to be relevant until we are nation at peace with differences in belief, color, opportunity. Actually living up to all the great words our politicians utter while patting themselves on the back.

It can happen. It will happen. In spite of the fools dedicated to holding back time and freedom.

Gates fires F-35 general – withholds $614M from Lockheed Martin

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said on Monday that he was replacing the general in charge of the Pentagon’s largest weapons program — the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — and withholding $614 million in award fees from the contractor, Lockheed Martin.

The surprise announcement came after Mr. Gates had touted the plans for the new plane last year in persuading Congress to kill the more expensive F-22 fighter jet program. But a special Pentagon review team had since projected billions of dollars in cost overruns on the F-35, and Mr. Gates said on Monday that the company needed to absorb some of the extra costs.

Mr. Gates disclosed the reshuffling on the F-35 program as he released the Pentagon’s proposed $708.3 billion spending package for fiscal 2011. Coming after a year in which the Obama administration killed the F-22 and other expensive weapons programs, the Pentagon’s new spending plans represent a $14.8 billion increase over the current totals…

Mr. Gates said the program manager on the F-35, Marine Corps Maj. Gen. David Heinz, would be replaced by a higher-ranking general whose name would be announced soon…

The Pentagon plans to buy more than 2,400 F-35s over the next 25 years, and the Air Force, the Navy and the Marine Corps will each have their own versions of the single-engine fighter. Eight allied nations are also investing in the project and could buy hundreds of planes…

But Pentagon and Congressional auditors have criticized the program in recent years for problems with suppliers, delays in producing the first planes and a flight test program that remains only 2 percent complete.

You don’t need a scalpel to continue cutting pork from the Pentagon hogs. There’s enough spare bacon there to keep NASCAR in hog-jowl jam for a century.

How old is the plane you’re flying on?

Few people expect luxury while flying, but these days, even the basics seem to be in bad shape.

It’s not uncommon to find your tray table broken, the in-flight entertainment system not working and your seat cushion worn — all of which can make you think, how old is this plane anyway?

It won’t be an issue for passengers who board the shiny new Boeing 787 Dreamliner when it enters commercial service — perhaps sometime next year if everything goes smoothly during its testing period…

But for now, the reality for many U.S. air travelers is that most of their journeys take place on planes that have been in service for a decade or more and show it, though in ways that have no impact on their safety — like worn interiors, broken creature comforts and less than spotless conditions…

“It’s inevitable you draw the link, even subconsciously sometimes, between whether a plane is cosmetically well maintained with whether it’s safe,” said Joe Brancatelli, who flies dozens of times a year and runs JoeSentMe.com, a Web site for business travelers…

In fact, it has been a while since most Americans have experienced that new plane smell.

The average age of the fleet of the seven large U.S. passenger airlines — including American, Alaska, Continental, the merged Delta and Northwest, Southwest, United and US Airways — is about 14 years old, according to The Airline Monitor.

It found American and Delta/Northwest had the oldest fleets, at about 16 years on average. As of the end of 2008, a small percentage of the merged Delta/Northwest’s planes dated back to the late 1960s.

U.S. fleets are among the oldest in the world, said Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst at the Teal Group in Fairfax, Virginia.

RTFA. There’s a bit of babble about safety regulations – which doesn’t mean squat unless the regulations are enforced. Anyone know of any regulations, at all, anywhere, that were enforced during the Bush/Cheney years? We have eight years worth of mediocrity to fix.

“Casper the Ghost” halts rheumatoid arthritis

A researcher from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has invented a novel way to halt and even reverse rheumatoid arthritis. He developed an imitation of a suicide molecule that floats undetected into overactive immune cells responsible for the disease.

Whimsically referred to as Casper the Ghost, the stealthy molecule causes the immune cells to self-destruct.

The approach, tested on mice, doesn’t carry the health risks of current treatments.

“This new therapy stopped the disease cold in 75 percent of the mice,” reported Harris Perlman, the lead author and an associate professor of medicine at Feinberg. “The best part was we didn’t see any toxicity. This has a lot of potential for creating an entirely new treatment for rheumatoid arthritis…”

Perlman discovered that immune cells in rheumatoid arthritis are low in a critical molecule called Bim, whose job is to order the cells to self-destruct. To correct that shortage, Perlman developed an imitation of the molecule, called BH3 mimetic. When Harris injected his drug into mice with rheumatoid arthritis, it floated ghostlike into their macrophages and bam!, the misbehaving immune cells self destructed.

In his research, Harris showed the molecule could prevent the development of rheumatoid arthritis as well as trigger a remission of existing disease. After the drug was injected in animals with the disease, joint swelling was reduced and bone destruction decreased…

Perlman said the next step is to develop nanotechnology for a more precise method of delivering the drug. His research was supported by the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

A significant breakthrough for very many people. There are countries where rheumatoid arthritis is one of the ranking incapacitating ailments.

Obama finally stands up on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ – UPDATED

Dan Choi, Arabic-speaking, Iraq War vet – discharged because he’s gay
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

President Obama and top Pentagon officials met repeatedly over the past year about repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the law that bans openly gay members of the military.

But it was in Oval Office strategy sessions to review court cases challenging the ban — ones that could reach the Supreme Court — that Mr. Obama faced the fact that if he did not change the policy, his administration would be forced to defend publicly the constitutionality of a law he had long opposed.

As a participant recounted one of the sessions, Mr. Obama told Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, that the law was “just wrong.” Mr. Obama told them, the participant said, that he had delayed acting on repeal because the military was stretched in two wars and he did not want another polarizing debate in 2009 to distract from his health care fight.

But in 2010, he told them, this would be a priority. He got no objections.

On Tuesday, in the first Congressional hearing on the issue in 17 years, Mr. Gates and Admiral Mullen will unveil the Pentagon’s initial plans for carrying out a repeal, which requires an act of Congress. Gay rights leaders say they expect Mr. Gates to announce in the interim that the Defense Department will not take action to discharge service members whose sexual orientation is revealed by third parties or jilted partners, one of the most onerous aspects of the law…

Republicans are already signaling that they are not eager to take up the issue.

But, then, the Republican position on civil rights is consistent – in their opposition.

UPDATE: Turns out practice is predictably less than promised. Gates announced yet another year-long study and discussion. More crap instead of action.

Dumb crook of the day!

His previous business

Matthew Delorey was a 26-year old with a business plan: selling hacked cable modems. This is the sort of business that a budding entrepreneur should probably keep on the down-low, or at least limit to those tiny text ads at the back of magazines where satellite descramblers are sold, but that’s no way to rake in the cash.

That’s why Delorey, of New Bedford, Massachusetts, posted ads on Craigslist and then—rather incredibly—put up YouTube videos with names like “Massmodz.com How to Get Free Internet Free Cable Internet Comcast or any Cable ISP—100% works…”

But Delorey attracted some federal attention, and an FBI agent purchased two modems from Massmodz. The modems were sent to Motorola, which confirmed that they had been hacked, and the FBI arrested Delorey Thursday morning at his home.

He is charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Each charge carries a maximum of 20 years in jail and a $250,000 fine.

Selling hacked cable modems and advertising them openly may have been a decent business model a decade ago, but it hardly seems worth bothering about today. The ISPs have been familiar with the practice since the beginning, when hackers would try to alter modem profiles in order to get more bandwidth than they were paying for.

The FBI may be run by conservative, knuckle-dragging noobies; but, let’s face it – they will notice a crook dumb enough to advertise his services.

If you need a very dry, boring, economics pep talk…

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Companies in the U.S. expanded in January at the fastest pace in more than four years as orders and employment increased.

The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc. said today its business barometer climbed to 61.5, the highest level since November 2005, from 58.7 last month. Readings greater than 50 signal expansion.

Government stimulus has spurred gains in demand here and abroad that are reducing inventories, paving the way for manufacturers to step up output. Ford Motor Co. is among companies that are beginning to hire again, setting the stage for stronger spending in coming months…

The group’s gauge of orders climbed to 66.4 from 64.4 the prior month and its measure of employment jumped to 59.8, the highest level since April 2005, from 47.6…

Economists watch the Chicago index for an early reading on the outlook for overall U.S. manufacturing, which makes up about 12 percent of the economy. Its membership includes both manufacturers and service providers, making the gauge a measure of overall growth…

The world’s largest economy expanded at a 5.7 percent pace from October through December, its fastest growth in six years, the Commerce Department reported today. Economists surveyed this month forecast the world’s largest economy will grow 2.7 percent this year.

This sort of information grows and changes endlessly at sources like Bloomberg. Everything from planning to investing, economics to traffic management decisions depends on accurate information, useful forecasting.

People who fear learning, who distrust knowledge sources that aren’t ideological – or ideologically friendly – probably didn’t get this far in the post. 🙂

From Shanghai to San Jose, Milan to Birmingham, people actually building commerce are a couple of days ahead of this post – and your Congressman, your governor, might just skim a 1-paragraph condensation 4 to 8 weeks from now.