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Leaked paper shows major policy split in UN on international drug war


Leaked paper shows major policy split in UN on international drug war
By Jamie Doward, The Observer
Saturday, November 30, 2013 19:32 EST

Major international divisions over the global “war on drugs” have been revealed in a leaked draft of a UN document setting out the organisation’s long-term strategy for combating illicit narcotics.

The draft, written in September and seen by the Observer, shows there are serious and entrenched divisions over the longstanding US-led policy promoting prohibition as an exclusive solution to the problem.

Instead, a number of countries are pushing for the “war on drugs” to be seen in a different light, which places greater emphasis on treating drug consumption as a public health problem, rather than a criminal justice matter.

It is rare for such a document to leak. Normally only the final agreed version is published once all differences between UN member states have been removed.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Dec 1, 2013, 05:21 AM (3 replies)

U.S. Army software pirate: settles suit for $50 million


U.S. Army software pirate: settles suit for $50 million
By George Chidi
Saturday, November 30, 2013 18:11 EST

A small software firm in Texas has a big payday against an unlikely software pirate: the U.S. Army.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Army settled with Apptricity, an enterprise planning and logistics software firm, for $50 million this week after pressing claims that the Army had installed its applications on many thousands more computers than the Army had contracted to use.

While the Department of Justice has not commented on the settlement, Apptricity’s chief financial officer Randy Lieberman told the Dallas Morning News that the settlement is “a multiple of our annual revenues.”

Apptricity began working for the Army as a subcontractor in 2004, brought in by Computer Sciences Corp. to provide software to help the Army keep track of its widely scattered people and equipment. The firm appears to have been a victim of its own success. Its software automatically integrates from upgrade to upgrade, which in the diffuse technology environment of the Army means that it may often be the only thing that works consistently from base to base, both at headquarters and in the field.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Dec 1, 2013, 05:18 AM (0 replies)

Old Aircraft Carrier Sold For A Penny


Old Aircraft Carrier Sold For A Penny
by James Dunnigan
November 7, 2013

The U.S. Navy recently sold a decommissioned (in 1993) aircraft carrier (USS Forrestal) for scrap. The ship yard that will take the Forrestal apart (All Star Metals of Texas) paid the navy one cent ($.01) for the ship. That’s because this was the best deal the navy could get. That’s because it will cost many millions to take the ship apart in a legal fashion (being careful to avoid releasing any real or imagined harmful substances into the environment). The other alternative was to sink the Forrestal at sea. But this requires partial disassembly (to remove anything that could or might pollute the ocean), that would be even more expensive.


Since the 1990s, sending warships to the scrap yard has not been considered a viable alternative. It's all about pollution, bad press, and cost. That was because of the experience with the largest warship to be scrapped to date, the 45,000 ton carrier USS Coral Sea. This ship took until 2000 (seven years) to be broken up. Thus, the new ecologically correct process was not only expensive but it took a long time. Then the navy discovered that the cost of scrapping a nuclear powered carrier like the USS Enterprise would be close to a billion dollars. This was largely the result of a lot more environmental and safety regulations. With so many navy ships (especially nuclear subs) being broken up in the 1990s, and all these new regulations arriving, the cost of disposing of these ships skyrocketed. This was especially true with carriers.

So for over a decade the navy just tied up retired ships and waited for some better solution to appear. That never happened. In fact, the situation has gotten worse. The navy only has one ship scrapping facility (Brownsville, Texas), so only one carrier at a time can be dismantled. Using official estimates of the time required to dismantle each of the biggest ships, it'll take seven decades to get rid of the surviving conventionally powered carriers. Note also that the conventional carrier in the absolute worst shape, the USS John F Kennedy, is the one being officially retained in category B reserve (but only until Congress forgets all about her, of course). Name recognition really does count.

It gets worse. With the really vast number of single hull tankers being scrapped and large numbers of old, smaller-capacity container ships laid up and likely to be offered for scrap fairly soon, the market for difficult-to-scrap naval ships is going to shrivel and the price for scrap steel will drop. Efforts to get the navy to include the costs of disposal in the budget for lifetime costs has never caught on and now it's obvious why not. The real nightmare begins with the first nuclear powered carrier (the 93,000 ton USS Enterprise), which began the decommissioning process in late 2012 (with the lengthy removal of all classified or reusable equipment). The cost of dismantling this ship (and disposing of radioactive components) may be close to $2 billion.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Nov 30, 2013, 11:01 AM (15 replies)

N.C. OKs higher rates to keep Blue Cross policies


N.C. OKs higher rates to keep Blue Cross policies
The Associated Press
© November 26, 2013


North Carolina's insurance commissioner is clearing the state's largest health insurer to raise premiums by between 16 percent and 24 percent on policies that would have been canceled for failing to meet minimum requirements required by the new federal law.

Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin said Tuesday his office approved the rate increases requested by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. The decision means people who had one of the nearly 152,000 cancelled policies can keep them next year at the higher cost.

It's not clear what other insurance companies plan for individual policies being cancelled because they don't include coverage for pre-existing conditions and other benefits.

A spokesman the next two largest health insurers — Aetna and its subsidiary Coventry Health — did not respond to messages Tuesday.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Nov 30, 2013, 10:32 AM (2 replies)

Howse This For A Jobs Program?


If SS United States fails to get job, it may be sunk
By Geoff Mulvihill
The Associated Press
© November 28, 2013


Its future is still uncertain, but the SS United States is getting a below-the-deck makeover to make it more appealing for developers interested in turning what was once the world's fastest ocean liner into a massive dockside attraction.

Workers began a project in October to remove tanks and other materials from the belly of the ship to make way for modern utilities systems that would need to go in to transform it. There's a second objective to the project, which is expected to last well into 2014: selling the materials to raise the $50,000 to $60,000 it takes each month to maintain and insure the vessel.

The SS United States Conservancy, the nonprofit group that owns the ship, warns that if its grand plans do not come together quickly, there might be no choice but to sell the historic liner as scrap.

"It's a great fixer-upper," said Susan Gibbs, executive director of the SS United States Conservancy and the granddaughter of William Francis Gibbs, the ship's Philadelphia-born designer, on a tour of the ship.

unhappycamper comment: A few weeks ago, Uncle sold the USS Constellation for one penny --> http://www.strategypage.com/dls/articles/Old-Aircraft-Carrier-Sold-For-A-Penny-11-7-2013.asp

America's infrastructure is not well.


Let's talk bridges. Ours are mostly decrepit. Why not melt these old ships down and use the steel to rebuild our bridges? We could:

* finally put all that good old American steel into American bridges
* smelting is not required as this is good quality steel
* bridge parts are made out of steel
* more workers would be required to dismantle the ships
* more workers would be required to make bridge parts
* more workers would be required to repair our bridges
* more businesses would be invigorated by more people having more money

Just saying.

Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Nov 30, 2013, 10:25 AM (0 replies)

Why We Should Hear More About Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair And Less About Paula Broadwell


Why We Should Hear More About Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair And Less About Paula Broadwell
By Andrea Peterson on November 13, 2012 at 2:04 pm

The media spent a fair amount of Veteran’s Day weekend abuzz with gossip about a small handful of veterans, starting with CIA Director and retired four-star Gen. David Petraeus and his biographer turned paramour Paula Broadwell. Petraeus resigned from his position heading the CIA on Friday, citing an extramarital affair, and setting off a cascade of online digging, speculative reporting and Bond jokes on Twitter. You could see Broadwell on The Daily Show winning a push-up contest for charity and on Book TV, speculate about whether Broadwell’s husband wrote to New York Times Ethicist Chuck Klosterman for advice–turns out, he didn’t–and pun on her name, a laugh-line for every taste.


That Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has acknowledged sexual assault is vastly under-counted in official records is both a troubling reminder of how bad the situation has become, and a ray of hope that the administration is willing to have an honest discussion about the issue and work towards fixing it. But in the mean time, we are faced with statistics that add up to a bleak portrait of how alleged serial abusers have thrived in military communities. Most prominent is the case of Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, who has been charged with forcible sodomy, multiple counts of adultery (a violation of military law) and having inappropriate relationships with four female subordinates. The first hearing in his case was last Monday.

Wired says the Pentagon and the Army have gone to “surprising lengths” to keep his case quiet and it shows: It’s hardly a blip on the radar compared to the Petraeus scandal. Certainly, it’s easier to joke about the soap opera plot unfolding among leadership than it is to process the challenges facing women in uniform every day for merely being female. But at the core of the Petraeus scandal are people who have spent significant portions of their lives deep in a culture with some very troubling norms about gender, and disturbing treatment of sexual violence. The Petraeus-Broadwell connection could even be seen as an extension of those dynamics: On one level, it’s a high powered authority figure who had a sexual relationship with someone who considered him a mentor — Petraeus was on Broadwell’s PhD advisory board, in addition to being the subject of her dissertation, and would have far outranked her during their overlapping time in the military.

Of course, such a legendarily disciplined leader couldn’t possibly be equally culpable, so we get to read story after story hitting all the familiar schadenfruede and slut-shaming notes like high school style gossip about Broadwell’s tight clothes in Afghanistan and her ”shameless self-promoting prom queen” persona. But the real scandal isn’t that yet another powerful man cheated on his wife. It’s that we have all the time to spend going through their dirty laundry, and almost none to spare to encourage the military to thoroughly clean house when it comes to sexual predators and the practices that protect them.

Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Nov 30, 2013, 09:44 AM (0 replies)

Obama updating security strategy


Obama updating security strategy
Posted: Saturday, November 30, 2013 4:30 am
By Scott Wilson | The Washington Post | 0 comments

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will formally present a new national security strategy early next year, identifying his foreign policy priorities for the remainder of his time in office, the White House said Friday.

The new policy document will be the second of Obama’s administration and will likely update the previous one, released in May 2010, in several important areas. Those include policies for fighting the next phase of the war against al-Qaida, the shift of national security resources to Asia and a plan to manage declining defense budgets amid fiscal strain.

The administration will present another strategy paper on how it intends to achieve the policy ambitions to be outlined in the new national security doctrine sometime in the spring, Obama told Congress in a letter made public Friday.

The new strategy is being drafted at a time when Obama continues to face questions over his counterterrorism policy, particularly the use of drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan as the U.S. military withdraws from that region.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Nov 30, 2013, 09:31 AM (0 replies)

Techies vs. NSA: Encryption arms race escalates


Techies vs. NSA: Encryption arms race escalates
November 29, 2013 Updated 7 minutes ago

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Encrypted email, secure instant messaging and other privacy services are booming in the wake of the National Security Agency's recently revealed surveillance programs. But the flood of new computer security services is of variable quality, and much of it, experts say, can bog down computers and isn't likely to keep out spies.

In the end, the new geek wars —between tech industry programmers on the one side and government spooks, fraudsters and hacktivists on the other— may leave people's PCs and businesses' computer systems encrypted to the teeth but no better protected from hordes of savvy code crackers.


In addition, experts agree that with enough time and money, any encryption can be broken. And already the NSA has bypassed —or altogether cracked— much of the digital encryption that businesses and everyday Web surfers use, according to reports based on Snowden's disclosures. The reports describe how the NSA invested billions of dollars, starting in 2000, to make nearly everyone's secrets available for government consumption.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government's computing power continues to grow. This fall, the NSA plans to open a $1.7 billion cyber-arsenal — a Utah data center filled with super-powered computers designed to store massive amounts of classified information, including data that awaits decryption.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Nov 30, 2013, 08:51 AM (3 replies)

'High' hypocrisy on Capitol Hill: Congressional leaders ignore calls for Radel's resignation


'High' hypocrisy on Capitol Hill: Congressional leaders ignore calls for Radel's resignation
by Linn Washington | November 29, 2013 - 9:40am

Florida U.S. Congressman Trey Radel, recently convicted of possessing cocaine, rightly wears the label of Drug War hypocrite, but assigning that total to just that one prominent felon helps tends to hide the long-standing stench of Drug War hypocrisy that extends from Capitol Hill to the White House and state capitals nationwide, including members of both parties.

Yes, Tea Party-backed Radel (R-Fla.), busted recently in a federal sting operation in the act of purchasing cocaine, deserves his hypocrisy dunce cap for antics like siding this year with a Republican seeking to require food stamp recipients to first receive mandatory drug testing.

Philadelphia Democratic Congressman Bob Brady notes what many of his Capitol Hill colleagues (hypocritically) refuse to acknowledge publicly. “An elected official who calls for drug testing for poor people trying to feed their families with the support of food stamps while knowing that he is himself a drug user is an absolute violation of the public trust,” Brady stated.

The mean-spirited initiative from Radel and his GOP confederates for pee-tests from persons impoverished enough to need government food assistance has, it should be noted, proved a costly failure in the Sunshine State.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Nov 30, 2013, 08:42 AM (15 replies)

Courageous Boeing Workers Say No to Corporate Extortion


Courageous Boeing Workers Say No to Corporate Extortion
Friday, 29 November 2013 01:13
By Richard Kirsch, Next New Deal | Report

In a remarkable act of courage and solidarity with the next generation, last week Boeing workers in Seattle soundly rejected corporate extortion, by voting down a contract which traded job guarantees for concessions that would severely erode the pay and benefits of younger workers. In doing so, the members of the Machinists are risking their jobs to save an America built on the middle class.

The dramatic fight of fast food workers for a minimal living wage, risking their jobs every time they take a day off to demonstrate, is one end of a corporate economy based on low wages, no benefits and no unions. That corporate strategy, aimed at maximizing profits, is destroying America’s middle class, wrecking the engine that powered the U.S. economy.

On the other end of the middle class are workers like Boeing’s, who have fought together through their union for the good pay, pensions, health benefits and job security that characterized the increased prosperity and lowered income inequality of America in much of the second half of the 20th Century. But despite being a hugely profitable corporation, with dominance in the world aerospace market, Boeing is eager to follow the Wal-Mart/fast-food model of the 21st Century economy.

Boeing is the aerospace and defense industry’s largest company, with its highest profits. In 2012 just the increase in Boeing revenues alone, $13 billion, would be equivalent to the 15th largest company in the industry. With a $319 billion backlog of orders - about 3,700 planes – the company is set for years and is outpacing its only competition, Airbus. Last year, Boeing made $6.3 billion in profits and rewarded its CEO $27.5 million in compensation, a 20% hike from the previous year.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Nov 30, 2013, 08:26 AM (0 replies)
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