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Comment Re: Castro dead (Score 1) 269

I have to point out that if your awesome alternative to capitalism specifically requires trade with the US in order to succeed, it's reasonable to wonder if you really have an awesome alternative to capitalism.

There are two problems with this.

The first one is that the implementation of a given idea can only work under certain circumstances, there is no absolute in this world. In this case the circumstances were against Cuba, since its biggest neighbour was openly hostile against them and that is a detrimental situation no matter what economic system you use. It is a situation similar to that of Ukraine and Russia, even though Ukraine is much bigger than Cuba and Russia is a smaller economy than the USA.

The second problem is that it wasn't just for the US: the US embargo was meant to hinder any economic relation of Cuba, through retaliation against every subject (nation, company, individual) having business with Cuba. Basically, of all their closest neighbours, Cubans had relations only with Venezuela.

Comment Re: Castro dead (Score 4, Informative) 269

Batista's Cuba was famous for literacy and doctors per capita, compared to the rest of Latin America, so Castro's improvements were pretty small

Life expectancy in Batista's Cuba was far lower than in the USA at the time, in Castro's Cuba it is higher. Literacy in Batista's Cuba was estimated between 60% and 76% (because there is no data for the neglect countryside), taking the highest esteem it was the fourth highest in Latin America at the time, today it is 99.7% according to Unesco data, highest in Latin America.
Try harder.

Comment Re: Castro dead (Score 4, Informative) 269

If a war torn banana republic is beating you that badly on growth, there is something seriously wrong with your economic policy.

Let me guess... an embargo?
That aside get your statistics right: Cuba GDP per capita is up 250% since 1970 and Honduras GDP per capita is up 230% in the same period and still half of the Cuban GDP per capita, life expectancy in Honduras is 73 years, in Cuba 79 (higher than USA by the way). Sen. Joseph McCarthy legacy still lives on.

Comment Re:You would think science could help (Score 1) 275

Climate does change...over very very long periods of time. right now it's changing over very very short periods do directly to our actions.

I think this is just the direct result of smoothing/filtering past data. There is not evidence that past climate changed slowly and steadily, on the contrary there are studies that shows that climate can change swiftly. I remember to have seen in the '90s, so before all the mainstream fuss about climate change, a study about beetles found in peat bogs, that suggested that different beetles species alternate with other beetle species (that dwell in different climates) in short spans of times, a few decades.

From my point of view, I look at all these quasi-linear climate models very suspiciously.

Comment Re:Not bad, looks like a clean record to me. (Score 1) 97

Too bad almost none of the commentators understand common facts about sports physiology and pharmacology. For example, the CORTICOsteroids given the tennis players for injuries would tend to make them weaker, not stronger.

Serena took Prednisone, which is a corticosteroids, that's true, but the problem is that she was positive to two Prednisone active metabolites: Prednisolone and Methylprednisolone. Those are steroids (who could think that Serena took steroids?) and in this case she was cleared because she can say "I didn't take those banned substances, I'm positive as a side effect of that other substance, allowed under restrictions". It is Lance Armstrong all over again to me.

Comment Re:Unearthed Plague (Score 3, Informative) 77

Easily treated is bit of an understatement. A properly treated bubonic plague causes a risk of death of 10% according to wikipedia, and there is still the problem that symptoms appear in a few days after contagion, and death in 7-10 days from contagion, so it is critical an early diagnosis. Septicemic and pneumonic plague are even worse.

Submission + - A flawed missile defense system generates $2 billion in bonuses for Boeing (latimes.com)

schwit1 writes: From 2002 through early last year, the Pentagon conducted 11 flight tests of the nation's homeland missile defense system. The interceptors failed to destroy their targets in six of the 11 tests — a record that has prompted independent experts to conclude the system cannot be relied on to foil a nuclear strike by North Korea or Iran. Yet, as The LA Times reports, over that same time span, Boeing, the Pentagon's prime contractor, collected nearly $2 billion in performance bonuses for a job well done...

Furthermore, The Pentagon paid Boeing more than $21 billion total for managing the system during that period.

An LA Times investigation by David Willman also found that the criteria for the yearly bonuses were changed at some point to de-emphasize the importance of test results that demonstrate the system’s ability to intercept and destroy incoming warheads.

Early on, Boeing’s contract specified that bonuses would be based primarily on “hit to kill success” in flight tests. In later years, the words “hit to kill” were removed in favor of more generally phrased benchmarks, contract documents show.

L. David Montague, co-chair of a National Academy of Sciences panel that documented shortcomings with GMD, called the $2 billion in bonuses “mind-boggling,” given the system’s performance.

Montague, a former president of missile systems for Lockheed Corp., said the bonuses suggest that the Missile Defense Agency, the arm of the Pentagon that oversees GMD, is a “rogue organization” in need of strict supervision.

The cumulative total of bonuses paid to Boeing has not been made public before. The Times obtained details about the payments through a lawsuit it filed against the Defense Department under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Times asked the Missile Defense Agency in March 2014 for information on bonuses paid to GMD contractors.

Boeing objected to release of the data, and the agency denied the newspaper’s request, saying disclosure might reveal “trade secrets and commercial or financial data.”

The Times then sued in federal court last year, asserting that the public had a right to know about the payments. The government’s lawyers later agreed to release the information if Boeing would not intervene in the litigation “or otherwise take steps to prevent disclosure.”

Boeing eventually acquiesced, and the Defense Department settled the suit with a single-page letter listing the sum total of bonuses paid to Boeing from Dec. 31, 2001, to March 1, 2015.

The figure: $1,959,072,946.

The precise criteria for bonuses could not be obtained for each of the relevant years. However, documents on file with the Defense and Treasury departments show that the missile agency at some point altered a central criterion.

“In recent contract terms, the words ‘hit-to-kill’ have been changed to support the more detailed documented objectives of each respective flight test. For intercept flight tests conducted under the current design and sustainment contract, a successful intercept remains a key performance objective.”

Whatever their rationale, by characterizing the test as a success, the agency and the contractors may have bolstered the prospects for performance bonuses, according to missile defense specialists.

Boeing, in its most recent annual report, underscored the significance of GMD to its finances. The company could face “reduced fees, lower profit rates or program cancellation if cost, schedule or technical performance issues arise,” the report said.

Timothy Sullivan, a former federal contracting officer who examined GMD financial documents at the request of The Times, said the bonus provisions were extraordinarily complex.

“How you administrate something like this is mind-boggling to me. It is an administrative nightmare,’’ said Sullivan, an attorney who represents defense companies and other government contractors in Washington for the law firm Thompson Coburn LLP.

Montague, the former Lockheed Corp. executive, said the intricate bonus system reflected the missile agency’s lack of rigor in engineering and contracting. If the goals for managing GMD had been adequately defined at the beginning and spelled out in contracts, there would be little need for lucrative incentives, he said.

By relying on bonuses, Montague said, the missile agency has effectively told Boeing: “We don’t know what we’re doing, but we’ll decide it together and then you’ve got to work toward maximizing your fee by concentrating on those areas.”

Is it any wonder that The Pentagon has 'lost' a few trillion dollars?

Submission + - In Defense of Douglas Crockford (github.io)

An anonymous reader writes: 'Two days ago the tech conference Nodevember announced that they would be removing a keynote speaker from their lineup in an effort to make their conference a more comfortable environment for all attendees.'

Submission + - Explosion at SpaceX launch facility at Cape Canaveral

oobayly writes: The Independent reports of an explosion at SpaceX's Cape Canveral launch facility. According to NASA they were testing one of the Falcon 9 rockets recovered from a barge landing.

Buildings several miles away were shook by the blast, and people nearby reported that multiple explosions continued for several minutes. After the explosion the sky was filled with dark smoke and sirens could be heard.

No comment from either SpaceX or Elon Musk yet, but it'll be interesting to see reaction from them (and SES), especially in light of their announcment regarding the upcoming SES 10 launch.

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