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unhappycamper

unhappycamper's Journal
unhappycamper's Journal
December 24, 2013

Lockheed F-35 Bad Deal as One Jet for All, Report Finds

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-17/lockheed-f-35-bad-deal-as-one-jet-for-all-report-finds.html



Lockheed F-35 Bad Deal as One Jet for All, Report Finds
By Tony Capaccio
2013-12-17T21:30:35Z

Lockheed Martin Corp.’s (LMT) F-35 jet fighter, designed by the Pentagon to serve the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, is likely to end up costing more than it would to build separate planes for each service, a Rand Corp. study has found.

“Under none of the plausible conditions we analyzed did” the F-35 “have a lower life-cycle cost estimate,” Rand, a nonprofit research institution, said in the report released this week on the plane known as the Joint Strike Fighter.

The report questions a fundamental tenet of the Pentagon’s costliest weapons program -- that building different versions on a common base will reduce costs. Rand analyzed an estimated $1.5 trillion “life-cycle cost” that includes acquisition plus long-term support of the fleet.


The Pentagon projects a price tag of $391.2 billion to build a fleet of 2,443 F-35s, a 68 percent increase from the projection in 2001, measured in current dollars. The number of aircraft the Pentagon plans to buy is 409 fewer than called for originally.
December 24, 2013

NSA Paid RSA $10 Million to Use Flawed Security Standard

http://www.tomsguide.com/us/nsa-rsa-secret-deal,news-18020.html



NSA Paid RSA $10 Million to Use Flawed Security Standard
By Paul Wagenseil
December 21, 2013 7:54 AM

RSA Security was paid $10 million by the National Security Agency (NSA) to fold a deliberately flawed encryption standard into its software, a Reuters report says.

The company, whose SecurID tokens and software are used by millions of smartphone users and corporate employees worldwide, made a pseudo-random number generator called Dual_EC_DRBG the default selection in its BSAFE encryption software toolkit in 2006.

Two sources told Reuters reporter Joseph Menn that setting Dual_EC_DRBG as the default was key to a $10 million contract the company had signed with the NSA that year. The BSAFE division had taken in only $27.5 million in revenue in 2005.

"Now we know that RSA was bribed," security expert Bruce Schneier told CNET following the publication of the Reuters story. "I sure as hell wouldn't trust them."
December 24, 2013

U.S. Marines poised to enter South Sudan

http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/23/world/africa/south-sudan-violence/



A mother displaced by recent fighting in South Sudan rests on top of her belongings inside a makeshift shelter at the United Nations Mission in Sudan on Monday, December 23. Clashes between rival groups of soldiers in the capital of Juba a week ago have spread across the country.

U.S. Marines poised to enter South Sudan
By Marie-Louise Gumuchian. Barbara Starr and Antonia Mortensen, CNN
updated 6:27 AM EST, Tue December 24, 2013

(CNN) -- About 150 U.S. Marines are poised to enter turbulent South Sudan to help evacuate Americans and provide security for the U.S. Embassy, if ordered to do so, two U.S. military officials said Monday.

The troops are moving from Moron, Spain, to the Navy's Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti.

An estimated 100 U.S. citizens are believed to be in South Sudan, where steady violence is stoking fears of an all-out civil war in the world's newest country.

"By positioning these forces forward, we are able to more quickly respond to crisis in the region, if required," read a statement from U.S. Africa Command.


December 24, 2013

Womack Army Medical Center Breast Health Clinic accredited

http://www.fayobserver.com/military/article_23d332ba-ab88-52b2-8acd-406d136ffb07.html

Womack Army Medical Center Breast Health Clinic accredited
Posted: Sunday, December 22, 2013 7:00 am | Updated: 7:00 am, Sun Dec 22, 2013.
By Paige Rentz Staff writer

Womack Army Medical Center has been recognized for its approach to treating breast cancer patients, becoming the first Army medical facility to receive such credentials.

Earlier this month, the team at Womack's Breast Health Clinic won accreditation by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers. Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is the only other military facility to receive the accreditation.

"It's a recognition of our success," said Lt. Col. Elizabeth Sawyer, directorate of surgery at Womack.

Sawyer said staff members knew the clinic was doing a great job, using a multidisciplinary approach to treating breast cancer patients, and the accreditation is a way to spread the word.
December 24, 2013

Russia buys $3 billion worth Ukrainian bonds

http://www.adn.com/2013/12/24/3244920/russia-buys-3-billion-worth-ukrainian.html



A man plays accordion during a Pro-European Union rally in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. Ukraine has been stricken with mass protests for over a month. Protesters are demanding President Viktor Yanukovych's resignation over his decision to ditch a pact with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia.

Russia buys $3 billion worth Ukrainian bonds
The Associated Press
December 24, 2013 Updated 19 minutes ago

MOSCOW — Russia has bought $3 billion worth of Ukrainian bonds in a bid to support its neighbor's economy, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has faced daily protests against his surprise decision last month to drop a landmark deal with the European Union. Last week, Yanukovych secured a deal with his counterpart Vladmir Putin whereby Russia slashes gas prices for Ukraine and buys $15 billion worth of Ukrainian government bonds.

The opposition says the agreements are a sell-out but Ukraine's Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said Russia's bond purchase has helped pull Ukraine from the financial abyss.

Medvedev met with Azarov in Moscow on Tuesday and announced that Russia bought the first batch of bonds worth $3 billion on Monday. He did not indicate, however, when Russia was going to buy more Ukrainian debt.
December 24, 2013

(Anchorage) No-bid deal to expand legislative offices downtown draws criticism

http://www.adn.com/2013/12/21/3241158/no-bid-deal-to-expand-legislative.html



large construction crane has been moved into place for the start of renovations to the Anchorage legislative office building on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage on Friday, December 13, 2013.

No-bid deal to expand legislative offices downtown draws criticism
By LISA DEMER
December 21, 2013

The lawmakers have moved out and giant construction cranes have taken over a stretch of downtown as work begins on an expensive redo of the Anchorage legislative building.

When it's all done, not only will the Legislature's rent for Anchorage balloon fivefold overnight, but on a square-footage basis, the state will pay more than double the going rate for downtown office space, according to a check of leases and space available on Multiple Listing Service.

State Rep. Mike Hawker, the Anchorage Republican who negotiated the 10-year lease extension with developer Mark Pfeffer, maintains the rent for 716 W. Fourth Avenue will be below market value -- a finding he had to make to bypass the usual requirements for competition and justify the no-bid deal.


An appraiser hired by the state to review the deal concluded that legislative offices are too specialized -- like the FBI building or even a prison or medical facility -- to be fairly compared to conventional office space.
December 24, 2013

The 2013 Lump of Coal Awards, Part 2

http://www.thenewstribune.com/2013/12/24/2963534/the-2013-lump-of-coal-awards-part.html

The 2013 Lump of Coal Awards, Part 2
December 24, 2013


~snip~

PIMCO and Invesco for being off-target with their target-date funds. Lipper tracks six different dated categories for “mixed-asset target funds” for the years 2025 through 2050 and — when it comes to 2013 performance – Pimco’s RealRetirement funds are at the bottom of every category group that ends with a five (2025, 2035, 2045), while Invesco’s Balanced-Risk Retirement funds lag every year ending in zero (2030, 2040, 2050). The only reason PIMCO wasn’t dead last in all groups was that Invesco was there; the reason why Invesco was not at the bottom in all groups is that it doesn’t have funds for years ending in five. Worse, both fund groups lagged average performance in each of those categories by about 10 percentage points, difficult in a year that forgave almost all investment strategies.

The Vanguard Group, for adding injury to insult in its money-market funds. Investors using money-market funds as safe-haven holding pens for their cash know they’re not getting much in return these days, but what shareholders in Vanguard’s three money funds got in September was completely unexpected, a capital gain. The structure of money funds makes it that they almost never generate capital gains or losses; Vanguard reportedly had not had a similar experience in roughly 40 years running money funds.

~snip~

LocalShares, for rooting a little too hard for its hometown. Plenty of people head to Nashville seeking fortune and fame, but they do it in country music, not in mutual funds. But the people behind the LocalShares Nashville ETF (NASH) are singing the mutual-fund tune; they opened this year investing only in companies based in and around Music City, a sensible philosophy only if “the Athens of the South” is somehow immune from what’s happening in the rest of the world. I can name this tune in two notes: OOK and TXF. Those were the tickers for two miserable, short-lived ETFs that had strategies centric to Oklahoma and Texas, respectively. When investors don’t dance to this Nashville tune — and they won’t — you can expect to hear the familiar refrain of “I fought the law (of bad fund ideas) and the law won.”

Directors at the Valley Forge fund for forgetting their job. The way funds are supposed to work is that the board of directors hires a manager who runs the money. At Valley Forge (VAFGX), however, the directors spent two months doing it themselves. The saga started late in 2012, when the fund’s former manager died and the board had terminated his contract within days of, well, his ultimate termination. Enter an interim manager, hired to run the fund through March. After that, until a permanent agreement with that manager could be reached, the board took over running the fund. A prospectus dated May 1 noted that the directors were responsible for any trades made in April and May. “Because none of the members of (the) Fund’s Board of Directors has any experience as portfolio managers, management risk will be heightened during the Interim Period, and you may lose money,” according to the prospectus. “In particular, the Fund will be subject to the risk that (the) Board may fail to take actions that an experienced investment adviser may take.”


--

The 2013 Lump of Coal Awards, Part 1 --> http://www.democraticunderground.com/111645046
December 24, 2013

Machinists to allow absentee votes on Boeing offer

http://www.thenewstribune.com/2013/12/23/2962911/machinists-to-allow-absentee-votes.html

Machinists to allow absentee votes on Boeing offer
The Associated Press
December 23, 2013

SEATTLE — Machinists who are on vacation will still get a chance to vote on a proposed contract with Boeing Co.

Union officials said in a message to members Monday that they are developing an absentee ballot process for those who cannot make it to the polls on Jan. 3. Local union leaders have expressed concern that many members will be on vacation and out of the area when the vote takes place.

National union leadership set the vote for Jan. 3 over the objections of local union leaders. Local union representatives say the latest contract offer is too similar to one rejected just last month.

The latest Boeing offer would still move workers away from a traditional pension plan. However, the company has backed away from a proposal that would have slowed the rate at which employees rise up the pay scale.
December 24, 2013

Sex assault latest target for military trailblazer

http://www.thenewstribune.com/2013/12/23/2962021/sex-assault-latest-target-for.html



Lt. Col. Celia FlorCruz talks about sexual assault in her office at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. As sexual assault response coordinator for the 7th Infantry Division, she is charged with rooting out sexual assault in Army ranks.

Sex assault latest target for military trailblazer
By ADAM ASHTON
Staff writer
December 23, 2013

Lt. Col. Celia FlorCruz blazed a path for women in the military, first as a graduate of the second class at West Point to admit female cadets and later as a helicopter pilot running medical missions in the Gulf War.

Those were tough assignments in which she had to prove herself.

Now the 54-year-old FlorCruz has an assignment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord calling on her to make the Army a better place by rooting out sexual assaults in the ranks.

She’s the top sex assault prevention and response officer for the 7th Infantry Division, which includes the base’s main combat brigades.
December 24, 2013

'Green Shoots': The Year in Wall Street Reform

http://smirkingchimp.com/thread/richard-eskow/53308/green-shoots-the-year-in-wall-street-reform

'Green Shoots': The Year in Wall Street Reform
by Richard Eskow | December 23, 2013 - 9:44am

One year ago a good argument could have been made for cynicism and despair, at least when it came to financial reform. More than four years after an epidemic of Wall Street fraud took down the economy, there had been no indictments of financial executives. Bank CEOs were still treated like royalty in Washington and New York. We still lacked comprehensive regulatory reform. The president's much-hyped task force on foreclosure fraud had negotiated a cushy, bank-friendly settlement aimed more at placating the public than in restoring justice to ripped-off homeowners.

Twelve months later, things are still tough. The only bank indictments we've seen are of low-level officials. We still don't have meaningful reform. And yet there are unexpected and promising signs.

Call them "green shoots." True, it's a problematic phrase, it's been used so often to raise false economic hopes since 2008. These shoots could wither and die. But there's something in the air we wouldn't have predicted one year ago: Hope.

Why? Because Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other populist leaders are continuing the fight for genuine financial reform. Because the public's resolve remains strong, even after five discouraging years. Because regulators and law enforcement officials are feeling the heat, and it shows.

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