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The Military

Submission + - There is Plenty to Cut at the Pentagon 2

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "William D. Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, writes that although we have been bombarded with tales of woe about the potentially devastating impacts of cutting the Pentagon budget 8% under the sequester, examples of egregious waste and misplaced spending priorities at the Pentagon abound and one need look no further than the department's largest weapons program, the F-35 combat aircraft which has just been grounded again after a routine inspection revealed a crack on a turbine blade in the jet engine of an F-35 test aircraft in California. Even before it has moved into full-scale production, the plane has already increased in price by 75%, and it has so far failed to meet basic performance standards. By the Pentagon's own admission, building and operating three versions of the F-35 — one for the Air Force, one for the Navy and one for the Marines — will cost more than $1.4 trillion over its lifetime, making it the most expensive weapons program ever undertaken. And in an era in which aerial combat is of diminishing importance and upgraded versions of current generation US aircraft can more than do the job, it is not at all clear that we need to purchase more than 2,400 of these planes. Cutting the two most expensive versions of the F-35 will save over $60 billion in the next decade. But some say the F-35 program is too big to kill. The F-35 funnels business to a global network of contractors that includes Northrop Grumman and Kongsberg Gruppen ASA of Norway. It counts 1,300 suppliers in 45 states supporting 133,000 jobs — and more in nine other countries, according to Lockheed. “It’s got a lot of political protection,” says Winslow Wheeler, a director at the Project on Government Oversight’s Center for Defense Information in Washington. “In that environment, very, very few members of Congress are willing to say this is an unaffordable dog and we need to get rid of it.”"

Submission + - Innocent or not, the NSA is watching you (

An anonymous reader writes: Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.

Submission + - Supreme Court Limits Patents Based on Laws of Nature

sed quid in infernos writes: The Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion yesterday holding that “to transform an unpatentable law of nature into a patent-eligible application of such a law, a patent must do more than simply state the law of nature while adding the words ‘apply it.’” The Court invalidated a patent on the process of adjusting medication dosage based on the levels of specific metabolites in the patient’s blood.

The opinion sets forth a “process for determining patent eligibility for patent claims that include a law of nature. The court wrote that the 'additional features' that show an application of the law must 'provide practical assurance that the [claimed] process is more than a drafting effort.' This language suggests that the burden will be on the patentee to prove that its limitations are more than patent attorney tricks.”

Submission + - NEC adding mini earthquake sensors to cloud computing devices (

alphadogg writes: NEC said Wednesday it will add small earthquake sensors to the growing set of devices that work on its cloud-based network platform.
A year after Japan was hit with a killer tsunamis, the company said it will team up with a small Japanese firm called aLab, which has designed a networked device about the size of a home router that can detect minute acceleration in three directions. NEC will manufacture the devices and offer them as part of its Connexive platform, which exchanges data with and analyzes information from devices, appliances and automobiles.

Submission + - Daily Aspirin May Prevent or Even Treat Cancer

An anonymous reader writes: Taking a low dose of aspirin, which has previously been shown to lower the risk for heart attack and stroke, can prevent and possibly even treat cancer, according to new research.

However, experts say there is still not enough research evidence to recommend it to prevent cancer development and death, and warn that aspirin can cause dangerous side effects like stomach bleeds.

Submission + - Historic Heat in North America Turns Winter to Summer (

An anonymous reader writes: A huge, lingering ridge of high pressure over the eastern half of the United States brought summer-like temperatures to North America in March 2012. The warm weather shattered records across the central and eastern United States and much of Canada.

Submission + - Look-Alike Tubes Are Killing Hospital Patients ( 1

Hugh Pickens writes: "The NY Times reports that in hospitals around the country nurses connect and disconnect interchangeable clear plastic tubing sticking out of patients' bodies to deliver or extract medicine, nutrition, fluids, gases or blood — sometimes with deadly consequences. Tubes intended to inflate blood-pressure cuffs have been connected to intravenous lines leading to deadly air embolisms., intravenous fluids have been connected to tubes intended to deliver oxygen leading to suffocation, and in 2006 a nurse at in Wisconsin mistakenly put a spinal anesthetic into a vein, killing 16-year-old who was giving birth. "Nurses should not have to work in an environment where it is even possible to make that kind of mistake," says Nancy Pratt, a vocal advocate for changing the system. Critics say the tubing problem, which has gone on for decades, is an example of how the FDA fails to protect the public. "FDA could fix this tubing problem tomorrow, but because the agency is so worried about making industry happy, people continue to die," says Dr. Robert Smith."

"For the love of phlegm...a stupid wall of death rays. How tacky can ya get?" - Post Brothers comics