Contractor uses taxpayer dollar$ to lobby illegally for no-bid contract


Click to enlarge — Yup, we pick up the tab for this, every year

A top government contractor managing a key Department of Energy laboratory inappropriately sought help from lawmakers and Obama administration officials to obtain a no-bid contract extension worth $2.4 billion per year, according to a federal review.

…Department of Energy Inspector General Gregory Friedman cited planning documents from Sandia Corporation showing that the firm, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin that operates Sandia National Laboratories, formulated a strategy to “campaign aggressively (Administration and Congress) to convince [then-Secretary of Energy Steven Chu] to extend the M&O contract.”

Former New Mexico congresswoman Heather Wilson, a Republican, was involved in the efforts, according to the review. The ex-lawmaker now runs a consulting firm and serves as president of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology.

Sandia’s tactics included persuading the New Mexico congressional delegation, a former U.S. senator, the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration and top advisers to the energy secretary to pressure Chu…

Friedman said the costs of the efforts were “borne by the U.S. taxpayers,” because Sandia paid for them with money that the federal government had previously given to the firm. He added that the plan represented a violation of federal acquisition guidelines and a federal law barring the use of congressionally appropriated funds to influence contracting decisions.

Sandia had sought a six-year, no-bid extension, but the Department of Energy ultimately extended the contract for two years without competition so the agency could prepare for a “full and open competition,” the inspector general said.

Well, it’s a good thing the representatives of our government are so tough on scumbags using sleazy illicit tactics. How can Sandia possibly expect to keep the wolf from the door with only a two-year no-bid contract to prepare itself for an actual competitive bid?

This crap criminality doesn’t even make good fiction.

Thanks, Mike

Remembering the engineer and mathematician — Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr

Born in Austria in 1914, the mathematically talented Lamarr moved to the US in 1937 to start a Hollywood career. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, she was considered one of cinema’s leading ladies and made numerous films; however, her passion for engineering is far less known today. Her interest in inventing was such that she set up an engineering room in her house complete with a drafting table and wall of engineering reference books.

With the outbreak of World War II, Lamarr wanted to apply her skills to helping the war effort and, motivated by reports of German U-boats sinking ships in the Atlantic, she began investigating ways to improve torpedo technology. After Lamar met composer George Antheil, who had been experimenting with automated control of musical instruments, together they hit on the idea of “frequency hopping.” At the time, radio-controlled torpedoes could easily be detected and jammed by broadcasting interference at the frequency of the control signal, thereby causing the torpedo to go off course. Frequency hopping essentially served to encrypt the control signal because it was impossible for a target to scan and jam all of the frequencies.

Lamarr and Antheil were granted a patent for their invention on August 11, 1942, but the US Navy wasn’t interested in applying their groundbreaking technology until twenty years later when it was used on military ships during a blockade of Cuba in 1962. Lamarr and Antheil’s frequency-hopping concept serves as a basis for the spread-spectrum communication technology used in GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices. Unfortunately, Lamarr’s part in its development has been largely overlooked and her efforts weren’t recognized until 1997, when the Electronic Frontier Foundation gave her an award for her technological contributions. Hedy Lamarr passed away in 2000 at the age of 85.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Obama and Xi pledge cooperation on greenhouse gas emissions

China and the US have unveiled new pledges on greenhouse gas emissions, as the leaders of the two countries met for talks in Beijing.

US President Barack Obama said the move was “historic”, as he set a new goal of reducing US levels between 26%-28% by 2025, compared with 2005 levels.

China did not set a specific target, but said emissions would peak by 2030.

China has cut carbon intensity for nine years in a row.

The two countries also agreed to reduce the possibility of military accidents in the air and sea…

In case you didn’t notice, only one of those two countries is stacking up military forces in air and on the sea – next to the other.

The two countries together produce about 45% of the world’s carbon dioxide…

President Obama’s offer is based on cuts in carbon emissions from coal power (a policy the Republicans threaten to reverse).

China’s offer to peak emissions is a long-awaited decision. Its emissions trajectory is now similar to Europe and the USA, just further behind because it still has so many people in poverty.

Scientists will fear this agreement is not yet strong enough. But it does show leadership – and it sends a powerful signal to financiers that investing in dirty fuels for the future is becoming a risk.

Except, not for the next two years at least. The Party of NO is now in a position to try to turn back what little has been done.

In September, China told a United Nations summit on climate change that it would soon set a peak for carbon emissions and that it would make its economy more carbon efficient by 2020.

China had previously aimed to reduce its carbon intensity, which meant reducing the amount of emissions per dollar of economic output. This meant that with its rapidly growing economy, its emissions could still rise.

Wednesday’s pledge is the first time it has agreed to set a ceiling, albeit an undefined one, on overall emissions.

China can speak for themselves and their actions speak much louder than editorial content in the NY TIMES. As an American citizen, I’m concerned with what my nation does – or in the case of any political topic requiring commitment at least 6th grade science, what my nation does not do.

Americans aren’t educated. Our politicians reject education and science – aside from lip service. As the recent mid-terms proved, our nation not only does not vote in their own self-interest, they don’t vote.

I think my cynicism is justified.

Thousands of Nazis were rewarded with life in the U.S. to aid the Cold war

In the early ’70s, New York Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman received a confidential tip that American immigration authorities knew of dozens of former Nazis — some implicated in serious war crimes — who were living in the U.S.

Holtzman looked into it and discovered that it was true, and that the formerly named Immigration and Naturalization Service wasn’t doing much about it.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg, according to investigative reporter Eric Lichtblau.

In his new book, The Nazis Next Door, Lichtblau reports that thousands of Nazis managed to settle in the United States after World War II, often with the direct assistance of American intelligence officials who saw them as potential spies and informants in the Cold War against the Soviet Union.

Lichtblau says there were whole networks of spy groups around the world made up of Nazis — and they entered the U.S., one by one…

Most Americans knew little about the Nazis among them. And then in 1979, media reports and congressional interest finally spurred the creation of a Nazi-hunting unit with the Justice Department.

That prompted the first wave of Nazi-hunting, Lichtblau says.

There are still documents that remain classified today about the CIA’s relationship with Nazi figures in the ’40s and ’50s and into the ’60s. A lot of these documents have become declassified just in the last 10 or 15 years. … There are documents that may open up whole new chapters that still remain classified…

RTFA for all the delightful topics in Lichtblau’s book: Generals who wanted Nazis in charge of DP camps; the ease of Nazi collaborators to slide through the DP camps vs the roadblocks faced by Jews.

Our transparent government continues to be see-through in name only. We have a new generation of politicians raised on the model of the Cold War. They are no less inclined to hide who they’re spying on and why. And the political hacks who set the standards were the creeps who brought Nazis into the US by the boatload – figuring they did their job “thoroughly” — why not do the same for us?

Or something like that.