Archive for February, 2011


This is Too Much For Me

REDSTATE – By Erick

I have, for me, shown an amazing amount of restraint in keeping my mouth shut on an issue about which I can stay silent no longer — GOProud and CPAC.

RedState’s parent company, Eagle Publishing, Inc., is a long time sponsor of CPAC. RedState itself is helping FreedomWorks sponsor Bloggers Row. We were the sole sponsor of Bloggers Row last year. I will be speaking at CPAC at the Young America’s Foundation luncheon named in honor of Tom Phillips, my friend and also the big boss at Eagle Publishing, Inc.

I have done my best to stay out of this business, keep my mouth shut, and appreciate my friends on both sides of the CPAC divide. Had I not seen this particular attack by GOProud against long time solid conservatives I’d continue keeping my mouth shut. But this is too much. And my guess is that there aren’t many if any willing to call foul, so I will do it.

As someone who spent time trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, I accept this as conclusive proof that, while it is a Republican organization, GOProud is not a conservative organization. Let me tell you why. What has my blood pressure up is this particular bit from the article:

Of the Heritage Foundation’s decision, he says, ”They’ve chosen to – and it’s a mystery to me why – but they’ve chosen to align themselves with the losers.”

Asked to explain, Barron places the blame at the feet of Cleta Mitchell, the big-name Republican D.C. lawyer who was the attorney for the groups trying to keep marriage equality from coming to the District. Mitchell did not respond to multiple requests from Metro Weekly for comment.

”I think there’s a couple people in Heritage who, at the behest of Cleta Mitchell – who is just a nasty bigot … she got some of the people at Heritage early on fired up about this,” Barron says. ”We tried very, very hard to smooth this over and to avoid any public fight with Heritage and then when Heritage came up with their excuse about how this wasn’t about GOProud – first of all, we knew it was, we knew it was six months ago – but we were willing to publicly let them.”

You really should read the whole thing. You’ll learn that should you disagree with GOProud, you are a bigot too…

The American Spectator: Partial Apology from GOProud

The State of the American Conservative Union

CPAC 2011 Chair :: David Keene

Oh how we have grown.  Today we kicked off the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC.  This annual gathering of concerned conservatives is always a bellwether of the state of the conservative movement in general, and the American Conservative Union specifically.  And I am happy to report that both the movement and the ACU are stronger than ever.

The 2011 CPAC will host more attendees, more exhibitors, more participants and a wider spectrum of voices and views than any past year.  Many dynamic conservative leaders in the nation will be speaking to the more than 11,000 attendees – sharing ideas and receiving feedback and support.  In this centennial of the birth of President Ronald Reagan – a conservative icon above all other – it is good to see so many still rallying to a cause he helped take mainstream.

With the election in November 2010, we were heartened to see conservatism triumph by such resounding margins at the ballot box.  Many conservative champions and friends of the ACU, like Congresswoman Kristi Noem, Congressman Tim Scott and Senators Pat Toomey and Mike Lee among many, many others, were elected nationwide, giving our movement more advocates in elected positions than we have seen in a decade.  At times it seems as if the numbers and strength of commitment of our conservative leaders nationwide are expanding every trip to the ballot box.

Additionally, our conservative coalition is growing.  We have found over the last few years that we have lots and lots of friends; individuals who support traditional conservative values of limited government, individual liberty, free markets, and the founding documents of our nation. While we don’t, and never have, agreed on every important conservative issue, as President Reagan said “If you agree with me 80 percent of the time, you are my friend.”  Including these varied groups in our movement has made us better and more influential.

Our range of influence is also growing.  As evidenced by our recent delegation to the Republic of China, we have expanded from a focus on conservatism domestically, to a desire to see conservative values blossom globally.  We have also taken steps to better reach past the traditional power corridor of the beltway and out into local communities – the real foundation of conservativism – to better reflect our commitment.  These efforts have lead to more people hearing our message and more people joining our cause.

When I look toward the next few of years, I am excited to see Al Cardenas take over as Chairman of the ACU to continue the work we started twenty-seven years ago and that many of you have so generously supported throughout my tenure.  I expect great things from Al and I know you do as well, especially at such a pivotal time. With important issues like the debt, immigration reform, entitlement reform and healthcare all to be debated this year we must continue to influence the debate.

Additionally, we all know 2012 will be an exciting year for conservatives.  These elections, with the potential to set the political and social agenda for the future are so important that we are fortunate the ACU and the conservative movement is so healthy.

The ACU is growing.  We are winning the battle for American values.  The last twenty-seven years for the ACU have been ones of tremendous achievement.  I expect the next quarter century to be even better.

Thank you for your support and God Bless America.

CPAC 2011: Whose Bright Idea Was it to Put Rumsfeld and Cheney in Front of Screaming Libertarians?

Slate – By David Weigel

First, a word about hecklers: It’s awful that they get so much attention. A few bad apples in a room of thousands can create the impression of massive dissent, when it really isn’t there.

That said, boy, was there a lot of heckling when Donald Rumsfeld arrived at CPAC to accept the Defender of the Constitution Award. The ballroom for big events fills up many minutes in advance. In this instance, the people who wanted to hear Rand Paul speak at 3:45 had to arrive around 2:30, and stay there. If they did, they sat through a speech from Donald Trump (a surprise to attendees who weren’t checking the news frequently), and used every possible moment to yell “RON PAUL” at the Donald. When Trump responded to one of the heckles, and said that Paul “can’t win” the presidency, there were loud and righteous boos.

It takes a while to exit the ballroom. This means that hundreds of Paul fans — recognizably younger and sometimes beardier than the median CPAC attendee — are in the room or in lines as Donald Rumsfeld is introduced.

“I am pleased to recognize our chairman, David Keene, to recognize Donald Rumsfeld,” says emcee Ted Cruz.

There are loud boos.

Keene mentions that this is the “Defender of the Constitution Award.” More boos; also, shouts of “RON PAUL! RON PAUL!”

When Rumsfeld takes the stage, the boos keep going, because some anti-war conservatives have stuck around to heckle. When it sees Dick Cheney, the crowd’s din drowns out the boos… for a while. I find a place on the floor next to several activists wearing Ron Paul gear.

“Bringing in Cheney made it worse,” says Nathan Cox, a Richmond, Va. activist and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. “I kinda feel like yelling something.”

He doesn’t yell, but another activist yells “Show us the shekels, Dick! Show us the shekels!” It’s a not-so-veiled critique of Israel that gets him immediately kicked out. Another anti-war conservative yells “Draft dodger!” and he’s kicked out.

By this point, enough supporters of the last Republican administration are in the room to fill it with cheers of “Cheney 2012!” and to drown out a heckler who yells “Where’s bin Laden?”

BREAKING: Donald Trump Begins Not Running for President

TIME – By James Poniewozik

… “Listen: I’d love to be wrong about this, simply for entertainment purposes. (And as far as the world is concerned, Trump is now primarily an entertainer.) But what we know about Donald Trump is: he loves attention and to be treated fawningly. As long as he is an exciting potential candidate, stringing along the press until summer or so, that is what he will get, not just from celebrity journalists whom he picked as the winner of a game show.

But what Trump does not like is losing, humiliation and being made to look bad publicly. And if Trump runs for President (on the GOP ticket, as he has been flirting with, or as an independent), he will lose, be humiliated and be made to look bad. Once Trump were to actually get into the race, he would have to be taken seriously by the political media, his inconsistencies parsed, his business history audited, his personal foibles exhumed.

As it is right now, everybody is willing to give him a pass on this right now, because, let’s repeat, Donald Trump is not going to run for President. But there’s a symbiosis; he gets exposure and gives the political media a handy, attention-getting story during these slack, silly months before actual candidates actually declare. See also: stories on a potential Michael Bloomberg candidacy, potential Democratic challengers to Barack Obama, a Vice Presidential switcheroo, &c. Enjoy the show while it lasts.”

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Computer pioneer Ken Olsen dies

Globe – By Bryan Marquard and Hiawatha Bray

Ken Olsen, who cofounded Digital Equipment Corp. and built it into the second-largest computer company in the nation by creating small but powerful machines called minicomputers, died Sunday.

He was 84, and his death was announced by Gordon College in Wenham, for which Mr. Olsen was a longtime trustee and benefactor. The college did not provide a cause of death or information about where Mr. Olsen was living.

Mr. Olsen launched Digital in 1957 in a defunct woolen mill in Maynard with $70,000 in venture capital. For a time, Mr. Olsen, his partner, Harlan Anderson, and his brother Stanley Olsen were the company’s only employees. With innovation after innovation, Mr. Olsen and Digital helped create the computer industry. At one point, the company was valued at about $14 billion.

In the 1960s, Digital pioneered a smaller, less- expensive alternative to the hulking mainframes that dominated the industry.

Mainframes were usually run by specially-trained operators and were off-limits to everyone else. Users stood in line, handed over their computing tasks, then waited for minutes or hours for the results.

But the minicomputers developed by Digital were so inexpensive that companies could buy several for scientists, engineers, or business managers, then let the workers use the computers themselves.

Digital and Wang Laboratories, along with their spinoffs, were widely credited with playing a large role in the Massachusetts Miracle, the period of economic growth in the 1980s.

Even when his own net worth was measured in the hundreds of millions, Mr. Olsen looked more like an engineer than an entrepreneur, favoring thick-soled work boots and preferring to drive a 1963 Ford Falcon because he admired its design and found it easy to maintain.

Under his leadership, Digital endured financial ups and downs. But after the company surged in the mid-1980s, Fortune magazine ran a cover story on Mr. Olsen, calling him “arguably the most successful entrepreneur in the history of American business.’’

Adjusting for inflation, Fortune said, Digital was bigger than Ford Motor Co. at the death of its founder, Henry Ford, and also larger than US Steel when Andrew Carnegie sold his company or Standard Oil when John D. Rockefeller stepped aside.

Digital was second to IBM in the computer industry, though it was less than one-sixth of IBM’s size.

Kenneth Harry Olsen was born in Bridgeport, Conn., and grew up in the suburb of Stratford. His father held patents and designed equipment such as a safety-pin machine and one that made universal joints for cars.

Mechanical even as a child, Mr. Olsen read technical manuals, rather than comic books. He began studying electrical engineering in the US Navy, which he joined in 1944, and continued his studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At MIT, he received a bachelor’s degree in 1950 and a master’s two years later, in electrical engineering.

Afterward, he worked at Lincoln Laboratory until deciding to start his own company in 1957, getting seed money from the early venture capital firm American Research and Development Corp. The financial backers did not want the word computer in the company’s name, and Mr. Olsen settled on Digital Equipment Corp., or DEC.

The company had sales of $94,000 in its first year. By 1977, when sales topped $1 billion, Digital had 36,000 employees.

In 1986, a Wall Street Journal reporter interviewed Mr. Olsen in his office in the building that formerly housed a woolen mill and dated to the mid-1800s. One wall was given over to his collection of old computer parts. “They’re artifacts, like dinosaur bones,’’ he said…

Kenneth H. Olsen, Digital Computing Pioneer, Entrepreneur and Gordon Board Member, Remembered

WENHAM, MA—Widely recognized as one of the 20th century’s leading computer industry pioneers, Mr. Kenneth H. Olsen, founder and former CEO of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), long time trustee at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, and alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), died Sunday, February 6, 2011. He would have been 85 years old on February 20.

In 2008, the Ken Olsen Science Center was dedicated at Gordon College during which time Olsen’s archives were given to the College.

“An inventor, scientist, and entrepreneur, Ken Olsen is one of the true pioneers of the computing industry,” said Bill Gates, founder and chairman of Microsoft, in a letter to Gordon College. “He was also a major influence in my life and his influence is still important at Microsoft through all the engineers who trained at Digital and have come here to make great software products.”

Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Olsen developed a love and curiosity for electronics at a young age. After an enlistment in the Navy during World War II, he attended MIT for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. While at MIT, he worked on a team that developed air defense technology and core memory, the precursor to today’s RAM. He married Aulikki Valve in Finland on December 12, 1950.

In 1957, he co-founded DEC in a refurbished mill in Maynard just outside of Boston, a company that grew to over 125,000 employees in 86 countries. Countless CEOs, engineers and inventors recognize Olsen’s technological innovations, leadership style and entrepreneurial philosophies as the foundation for today’s information and computer networking industry.

“Ken Olsen was a pioneer of the computer age, but beyond that, he was a good man. He was a major philanthropist who did his giving quietly, never seeking recognition or thanks. Ken’s many contributions to business, leadership and technological innovations were unmatched,” said Tom Phillips, former chairman of Raytheon and fellow board member at Gordon College since 1970. “He cared deeply about his family, his faith and of course, his work, and sincerely expected that each would help make the world better. That was his legacy and I’m proud to have called him friend.”

Under Olsen’s 35-year leadership tenure, DEC pioneered the concepts behind interactive computing. Creating one of the first digital computers for commercial use, DEC marketed the “mini-computer” and set records in size and affordability. The company also set industry standards in program languages, operating systems, networking architectures, applications software, computer peripherals, component and circuit technology, manufacturing processes and business practices.

In 1986 Fortune Magazine named him the “most successful entrepreneur in the history of American business.” He was also inducted into multiple halls of fame including the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame (1990) and the Computer History Museum (1996). He served on the boards of several prestigious organizations including the Computer Science and Engineering Board of the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.; and as a member of the President’s Science Advisory Committee. He was awarded the National Medal of Technology in 1993.

Olsen had a particular fondness for Christian higher education. As an active member of Park Street Church in Boston, Olsen joined the board of Gordon College in 1961, along with fellow trustees Phillips and evangelist Billy Graham. Olsen admired Gordon’s openness to scientific inquiry and commitment to the Christian faith, and provided both spiritual and business input for the next 50 years. He supported numerous capital and building projects in all areas of academics, athletics, music and the arts, and moved the College towards greater efficiency in technology by donating his time, expertise, and company equipment.

In his early leadership at DEC, Olsen often visited Gordon’s campus to meet informally with science students or professors about specific developments in computing. Sometimes he would drop off his latest prototype for Gordon scientists and challenge them to “play around with this in the lab and let me know what you think.” Because of his involvement, Gordon was a natural recipient for his archives.

“Ken Olsen made a lasting impact on generations of science students at Gordon College. He took his leadership role seriously, not just attending meetings but also helping to design new computer labs, giving of his own resources for the College to meet its financial goals, and asking the tough questions that a growing institution needed to answer,” said Gordon College President R. Judson Carlberg. “Ken never saw a conflict between his Christian commitment and his embrace of scientific methods. It was up to us to understand how science and the Bible were two expressions of God’s creativity; and we are still pursuing that task.”

Through all of his accomplishments, Olsen’s family and friends defined him by his humble commitment to loving God, loving excellence and loving others. His character in and out of the workplace reflected his life-long belief that values, business ethics, and scientific inquiry should coincide with faith in God.

“Science is more than a study of molecules and calculations; it is the love of knowledge and the continued search for the truth,” Olsen once wrote. “The study of the sciences promotes humility, leaving us with a clear sense that we will never understand all there is to know. At the same time, science provides a defense for truth, authenticates Christianity and stems from the nature of God.”

A public memorial service will be held at Gordon College (255 Grapevine Road, Wenham, MA, Exit 17 from Route 128) on Saturday, May 14, 2011, at 2 p.m., and a documentary of Ken Olsen is scheduled for release by the College later in 2011. Friends and former colleagues are encouraged to leave a memory about Olsen.

Reboot: 7 7 7 7 6 (3 up, 3 up, 3 up, 3 up, first 2 up)…

Related Links:

Aulikki Olsen, wife of DEC co-founder Ken Olsen, dies at 84

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Raves

CNN coverage of Cyclone Yasi places Queensland in Tasmania

US media giant CNN’s reporting of Cyclone Yasi blew Queensland off the map, when it depicted the weather-ravaged state as being in Tasmania.

The international news breaker was roundly mocked around the world, when its map of Australia on a news bulletin pointed to Queensland being several thousand kilometres south in a bulletin last week.

While CNN appears to have quickly removed the offending graphic from its website, bemused Australian media watchers and others quickly sent the image viral. It appears CNN researchers googled Queenstown, which  is on Tasmania’s west coast, instead of Queensland, when researching the report.

Today the image continues to be sent to inboxes and posted on Twitter and Facebook with tongue-in-cheek comments to match. Among the finger-pointing at the media giant’s redrawing of Australia’s map include: “Beautiful one day …” and “Whoah. Yasi was powerful!”

Britain’s Daily Mail also redrew Australia’s State boundaries last week in its flood coverage, splitting Queensland in half and adding a seventh state, Capricornia. That graphic was also removed, but not before scores of readers had pointed it out to the news site.

How to Take Ecstasy:

L.A. County Health Officials Teach You How

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Northrop Grumman-built U.S. Navy X-47B Unmanned Combat Aircraft Completes Historic First Flight

First-of-its-Kind, Tailless Aircraft Moves Closer to Carrier Trials in 2013

Core News Facts:

  • On Feb. 4, 2011, Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) and the U.S. Navy successfully conducted the historic first flight of the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) aircraft.
  • The flight, which was conducted under hazy skies at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), Calif., began at 2:09 p.m. PST and lasted 29 minutes.
  • The flight is a critical first step for the Navy/Northrop Grumman UCAS-D team toward demonstrating that a tailless, fighter-sized unmanned system can safely land and take off from the deck of a U.S. aircraft carrier.
  • The flight provided test data that will contribute to the verification and validation of the X-47B’s air vehicle’s guidance and navigation software, and the aerodynamic control of its tailless design.
  • First flight represents the culmination, verification and certification of pre-flight system data collected and analyzed by both the Navy and Northrop Grumman. Prior to the flight, the test team demonstrated airworthiness of the airframe through proof load testing; propulsion system reliability through accelerated mission tests; software maturity and reliability through rigorous simulations; and overall system reliability through low speed and high speed taxi tests.
  • The X-47B aircraft will remain at Edwards AFB for flight envelope expansion before transitioning to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. later this year. There, the system will undergo additional tests to validate its readiness to begin testing in the maritime and carrier environment.
  • The UCAS-D program is preparing the X-47B for carrier trials in 2013.

Quotes:

  • “First flight represents the compilation of numerous tests to validate the airworthiness of the aircraft, and the robustness and reliability of the software that allows it to operate as an autonomous system and eventually have the ability to take-off and land aboard an aircraft carrier.” – Capt. Jaime Engdahl, UCAS-D program manager, U.S. Navy
  • “First flight is a giant confidence boost to the entire UCAS-D industry team. It provides us with important momentum as we now to turn to demonstrating that this first-of-its-kind air system can not only fly, but also integrate smoothly with carrier operations.” – Capt. Jaime Engdahl, UCAS-D program manager, U.S. Navy
  • “Designing a tailless, fighter-sized unmanned aircraft from a clean sheet is no small feat. Commitment, collaboration and uncompromising technical excellence among the Navy, Northrop Grumman and the UCAS-D team industry partners made today’s flight a reality.” – Janis Pamiljans, vice president and UCAS-D program manager, Northrop Grumman.
  • “The Northrop Grumman-led UCAS-D industry team is honored to have given wings to the Navy’s vision for exploring unmanned carrier aviation.” – Janis Pamiljans, vice president and UCAS-D program manager, Northrop Grumman.

Program Background

  • The Navy awarded the UCAS-D prime contract to Northrop Grumman in August 2007. The six-year contract includes the development of two X-47B fighter-sized aircraft.
  • The program will demonstrate the first-ever carrier launches and recoveries by an autonomous, unmanned aircraft with a low-observable-relevant planform. Autonomous aerial refueling will also be performed after carrier integration and at-sea trials.
  • Northrop Grumman’s industry team includes GKN Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney, Eaton, General Electric, Hamilton Sundstrand, Dell, Honeywell, Goodrich, Moog, Wind River, Parker Aerospace, and Rockwell Collins.

Navair True Heading Video:  1st UCAS-D Flight

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – After a series of extensive ground and simulator training events, Lt. Cmdr. Eric “Magic” Buus completed the first flight by a U.S. Navy test pilot Feb. 3, 2011.”The flight was very enjoyable and went off without a hitch,” Buus said. “I’m very blessed to be on this program, and it’s a testament to the designers and engineers that this airplane flies so well. I’m looking forward to getting a few more hours, helping the team knock out test points, and delivering this airplane to the warfighters. I think the fleet is going to love this airplane.” 

“This is a great milestone for the Navy and naval aviation,” said Vice Adm. David Architzel, Commander of Naval Air Systems Command. “Having Navy test pilots flying the future of the fleet is a testament to the unique skill set provided by our test pilot school here at Pax River.”

“Technology has come a long way, and our test pilots today are doing a great job getting the technology and capability out to the front lines,” said Architzel.

The F-35 flight control and pilot interface is designed to reduce workload through automation and integration, allowing the pilot to focus on warfighting.

For new Navy and Marine Corps test pilots at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, advanced flight simulators provide test pilots the ability to complete their first F-35 flights solo, a first for naval aviation, and will be the model for F-35 pilot training for the fleet.

The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program is in the system design and development phase, focusing on delivering three different, new aircraft variants to the U.S. Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force. The Marine Corps and Navy variants represent the first fighter aircraft with stealth capabilities.

How reasonable a purchase?

Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced last year his decision to make the F-35 Lightning II ‏(aka the Joint Strike Fighter‏) as the future fighter plane of the Israel Air Force and it should be approved.

Haaretz – By Yiftah S. Shapir

…the F-35 also has some very important shortcomings. Even during the very early stages of the project there was the question of how the aircraft would be adopted to Israel’s special needs. Israel wanted to install its own weapons and electronic systems in the plane ‏(in particular, electronic warfare systems‏), and wanted access to the plane’s software source code − requests that were denied by the American side.

Another important issue was the price. As one of only two fifth-generation combat aircraft that exist now in the world, this aircraft was supposed to be the “affordable” part of the high-low mix ‏(the F-22A Raptor is the “high” part‏) in the U.S. Air Force inventory. Its price tag was initially estimated at some $50-60 million apiece, but delays and overruns in the development project pushed up the price. The final price per unit is still unknown, but is estimated at $130-$150 million. Its entrance into operational status has also been postponed multiple times ‏(most recently to 2016 for the F-35A − the model that Israel wants‏).

For many years, preservation of its qualitative advantage has been a main element of Israel’s security concept. For this reason alone, it was clear since the beginning of the JSF project that when the time came, Israel would be interested in purchasing the aircraft.

But the F-35 will not be the panacea for Israel’s security problems. Actually most of its tasks can be performed with similar effectiveness by existing planes with one type of upgrade or another. Many of its unique capabilities can be achieved even today by existing planes, upgraded with Israeli-made systems. And the high price, which will allow for the purchase of only a small number of aircraft, will mean the IAF will need to retain a large number of F-16s for many years.

Furthermore, since the F-22 is not being exported, Israel will miss the “high” part of the high-low mix. The F-35 cannot be a substitute for the F-15, which is today used both to ensure air superiority and to launch long-range attack missions. These planes are also expected to stay in the order of battle for many years, again, with upgrades of one kind or another.

There are technical issues as well. The plane, with all its marvelous gizmos, will probably be less aerodynamically capable than the older F-16. Its stealth is limited, and its early production batches will be authorized to be equipped with only a few of the weapons systems it is supposed to carry.

Therefore, if the considerations for purchasing the plane were tactical only, the deal, under the current price conditions, would not be justified. The picture, however, is more complicated. For one, the plane is not being paid for with money from Israeli taxpayers, but with American aid.

The choice is not between “guns or butter,” but between various American-made weapons systems − fighter planes or ships, tanks and cannons. The requirement to purchase such systems and the strategic relationship with the United States also rule out examining other options, such as purchasing European aircraft ‏(or even Russia’s future fifth-generation combat aircraft‏).

There are additional considerations: the advantages the F-35 deal will provide to the Israeli defense firms that will be allowed to participate in the plane’s production, and the deal’s contribution to Israel’s complex relations with the United States, which for its own reasons is interested in Israel’s purchasing the plane. It should be mentioned here that the IAF’s reputation is very important for the manufacturers of the F-35. If Israel buys it, others will want it, and the more buyers there are, the lower its price per unit will be…

China Publicizes Submarine Missile Launch

Chosun Ilbo

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Daily on Friday carried a photo on its front page of the Changcheng 200 submarine test-firing a missile.

The disclosure of the exercise follows the dramatic test flight earlier this month of a new stealth fighter jet that coincided with the visit of U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The news was also reported by the official Xinhua news agency, the web edition of the People’s Daily, and the Science and Technology Daily the following day. They did not specify when and where the test took place.

The Changcheng 200, commissioned in 1966, is a large G-class conventional submarine, 98 m long and 8.6 m wide. It is powered by diesel engines and electric motors. The sub first test-launched a missile in 1982, but this was the first time a firing exercise has ever been made public.

“The Changcheng 200 smoothly accomplished scores of test-launch missions of ballistic missiles over the past 46 years. It received the title ‘vanguard submarine of underwater test launches’ from Hu Jintao, the chairman of the Central Military Commission, last August,” the daily said.

The sub is under the command of the North Sea Fleet, which supervises the Balhae Sea (Bohai) and the West Sea. The missile is believed to be a Changjian-10 submarine-launched cruise missile also known as an “aircraft carrier killer.” This spawned speculation that the drill was staged in preparation for the entry into the West Sea by U.S. aircraft carriers.

Earlier on Jan. 26, official Chinese media revealed the test-launch of a nuclear missile by the Second Artillery Force, the Chinese Army’s strategic nuclear missile unit.

Diplomats in Beijing speculated that China aims to show off the modernization of its military at home and abroad and enhance military transparency as demanded by the U.S. and the West.

A military expert in Beijing said the official Chinese media outlets on Jan. 26 gave massive coverage of the test-launch of a nuclear missile by the Second Artillery Force even though it failed. “It appears that the military is unveiling these weapons to emphasize their defense readiness,” the expert speculated.

Navy Bids Farewell To Trailblazing USS Los Angeles

By Lt. Ed Early – Commander, Submarine Group 9 Public Affairs

BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) — Feb. 4 marked the end of an era for the “Silent Service” as USS Los Angeles (SSN 688), the first of the world’s largest class of nuclear-powered submarines, underwent her final decommissioning at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility.

Cmdr. Steven Harrison, Los Angeles’ last commanding officer, was joined by Capt. Mark Whitney, commander of PSNS and IMF; and Capt. Dan Prince, chief of staff for Submarine Group 9; as the submarine’s commissioning pennant was hauled down and the watch secured for the last time, ending Los Angeles’ 34 years of service.

“Thirty-four years ago, a crew similar to this one ran aboard Los Angeles, bringing life to this steel body,” said Lt. Cmdr. Darrel Lewis, Los Angeles’ executive officer and master of ceremonies for the event. “Today, we reluctantly bid her farewell.”

Launched in 1974 and commissioned Nov. 13, 1976, Los Angeles was the first of a new class of fast-attack submarines, intended as an eventual replacement for the Navy’s Skipjack-, Permit- and Sturgeon-class SSNs. A total of 62 Los Angeles-class submarines were constructed between 1972 and 1996, making the class the largest nuclear-powered submarine class in the world.

In his final remarks as Los Angeles’ commander, Harrison recalled the frontline role played by Los Angeles and other submarines of her class during the Cold War.

“The ship served proudly, as well as all the other remaining ships of the class, and contributed to victory in the (Cold) War in ways the general public will never know about,” said Harrison.

The fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name – the others were a World War I tanker (ID 1470), an airship (ZR 3) and a Cold War-era heavy cruiser (CA 135) – Los Angeles received many honors during her three decades of service, including seven Battle Efficiency Awards, seven Meritorious Unit Commendations and one Navy Unit Commendation. She made 16 deployments, participating in four Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) multinational exercises.

Los Angeles also made history in May 1977 when President Jimmy Carter, the only U.S. president to qualify in submarines, and his wife Rosalynn joined Adm. Hyman Rickover for an at-sea demonstration of the submarine’s capabilities.

Los Angeles’ farewell process began Jan. 23, when the ship’s public decommissioning ceremony took place at the Port of Los Angeles. Placed “in commission, in reserve,” Los Angeles transited north to PSNS and IMF to begin the inactivation process.

In taking custody of Los Angeles, Whitney promised that Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility would honor the submarine’s history.

“The inactivation and retiring of ships is an important element of our business,” said Whitney. “But one of the important elements we don’t actually talk about an awful lot when we are executing the work is one of the things we hold very sacred – that is, we will respect the honor and we will preserve the legacy of your ship.”

“We are proud to be the final crew of the USS Los Angeles,” said Harrison. The Los Angeles class was followed by the Seawolf- and Virginia-class submarines. For more news from Commander, Submarine Group 9, visit www.navy.mil/local/csg9/.

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Aeroplanes: Past, Present, And Future

All Things Military: Social Networking, DADT, And Another Phony Veteran

Fighter Delays, Cost Increases, And A New Tanker RFP

X-47B Integration Testing, A New Bomb Truck, And A F-35 “In The Bush” Rather Than The F-22 “In The Hand”

DARPA: Thinking Outside the Box And Mining The Far Side!

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Google plays to the galleries

Reina Sofía and Thyssen feature in search engine’s new virtual art tour project

El País – ANTONIO FRAGUAS

A global initiative with Spanish roots, Google’s Art Project is set to change the way we approach art. The free website (www.googleartproject.com), which was presented in London this week, has two aims: to allow us to view works at a level of detail impossible with the naked eye and to allow us to stroll through the galleries of 17 museums around the world (Spain’s Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza among them) without the joy (or the annoyance) of sharing the shadows, glances and rushing of other visitors.

Knowing such details as the kind of sailboat the Italian artist Vittore Carpaccio suggests atop the watery point of refuge featured in Young Knight in a Landscape (1510) is only possible with an image of 14 billion pixels, a thousand times the detail you get with a normal camera. “I just went in and the resolution is incredible, it’s almost a restorer’s-eye-view,” says Manuel Borja-Villel, director of the Reina Sofía Museum, which has submitted the work The Bottle of Anís del Mono by Juan Gris to Google’s eye.

To attain such a high level of definition Google used professional cameras and a tool from Spanish company Madpixel that lets you capture high resolution images from sections of a canvas. Each painting has been photographed to the millimeter in a synchronized way. Millions of individual images were taken during the process, which were then brought together to rebuild the painting using the virtual photo album technology of Google’s Picasa software.

The idea came from Madrid-born Clara Rivera, who was working for Google España when it occurred to her to focus on the search engine’s popular art applications. She was behind the 2009 presentation of a plan for an application allowing people to see various works of art in high resolution from the Prado Museum, a gallery ultimately absent from the final project. “We would love for them to come onboard and the door is open,” she says. Prado management sources this week explained that they did not think this project related to their work in exhibiting and presenting its collections. “That does not imply that we are closed to collaborating with Google again in the future on this or other projects that we consider of interest,” said the same sources.

The figures for Google’s Art Project, which is still in its initial phase, talk of 17 museums, 11 cities in nine countries, 17 gigapixelled paintings, more than 6,000 panoramas of gallery corridors, 1,061 images of works of art in high resolution, 486 artists and 385 rooms.

But what was presented in London is something more than high-resolution images. It is a luxury showcase for Google, which has put its best-known tools into a cocktail shaker and devoted them to art for a year and a half, an aim not intended at the beginning. Google Earth, its application for flying around the globe, now allows you to zoom in on just a few millimeters of a canvas. Street View, its service for walking virtually around city streets, now lets you go inside the corridors of galleries such as the Uffizi in Florence, New York’s MoMA and the Hermitage in St Petersburg. What’s more you can obtain other information about the works with applications such as Google Scholar, Google Docs and YouTube.

Visitors can also become curators of their personal selection of works, comment on them and share their virtual visits with friends.

Will this experience make museum visits redundant? The Reina Sofía’s Borja-Villel doesn’t think so. “It’s just the opposite. All artworks have something physical, even the most conceptual art. The experience of touring a museum is irreplaceable.”

And Clara Rivera agrees: “What this project does is invite people to journey to see the paintings, but we don’t all have the opportunity to travel to New York or Moscow. Now we can access works of art from home.”

The following museums are included in the project:

Palace of Versailles

Alte Nationalgalerie Berlin

Tate Britain London

Gemäldegalerie Berlin

MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art New York City

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Washington, DC

The Frick Collection New York City

Museo Thyssen – Bornemisza Madrid

The State Tretyakov Gallery Moscow

Museum Kampa Prague

National Gallery London

Museo Reina Sofia Madrid

The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York City

The State Hermitage Museum St.Petersburg

Uffizi Gallery Florence

Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam

The Cat in the Hat Comes Back

NYT – By GUY TREBAY

THERE was a time when only beggars went bareheaded. This was some while ago, a century or so. But up until World War II and the period just after, a gentleman was not considered properly dressed without a hat. Even the names of hats were rich in character and historical association.

The bowler, or derby, with the rigid shape of an upended bean pot, was named for a 19th-century English earl who popularized the style. The fedora’s name came from a play of that title, written for Sarah Bernhardt by the otherwise largely forgotten French dramatist Victorien Sardou.

Then the hat went the way of the dodo. Social historians are divided about the cause of the sartorial die-off, although an often repeated canard attributes it to President Kennedy and his rarely covered thatch of luxuriant hair. The real blame probably belongs to automobiles, though. Hats were knocked off when you entered a car and inevitably got squashed beneath a passenger’s wayward behind or went into orbit when you lowered the top to a convertible.

Whatever the reason, there is no arguing with the facts of the hat’s decline. In 1940, there were 180 independent major manufacturers of hats operating in the United States. Today there are 10.

And while it is true that the headwear business is not altogether on the skids (retail sales of hats in the United States are estimated at $1.75 billion annually, roughly 40 percent of that figure being hats sold to men), it would be stretching things to say the future looks bright…

But the best uses of hats in a season that is far from over — the men’s shows in New York begin next week — came at the Paris shows of Dior Homme and Lanvin. While Kris Van Assche, the Dior Homme designer, favored handsome but austere flat-brimmed hats right out of “Witness,” Lucas Ossendrijver, who designs men’s clothes for Lanvin, seemed to have fallen in love with the way a broad-brimmed Borsalino with a suggestively pinched crown instantly sexualized an ordinary two-button suit.

“The theory used to be that in difficult economic times, when a man couldn’t afford to buy an overcoat and a suit, he would pick up his wardrobe with a hat,” Mr. Rongione said. That’s not what’s happening now. Some of the hats on European runways would look perfectly fine on an Average Joe. (O.K., an Average Joe who happens to hang out at the Smile or in the lobby of the Ace Hotel.)

“A regular guy could actually pull off some of these hats,” Mr. Rongione added. “As opposed to something no one in his right mind would wear out of the house.”

Maria Schneider dies aged 58

Maria Schneider, best known as Marlon Brando’s co-star in Last Tango in Paris, has died at the age of 58

Guardian – By Xan Brooks

Maria Schneider, the actor who helped introduce explicit sex to mainstream cinema, has died following a long illness. The 58-year-old is best known for her performance in Bernardo Bertolucci‘s 1972 drama Last Tango in Paris – a role that came to both define and destroy her acting career.

Schneider was a teenage model when she landed the role opposite Marlon Brando in Last Tango in Paris. The film details the relationship between a young Parisian woman and a middle-aged American hotel manager and was notorious for an improvised, butter-assisted sex scene that resulted in a prohibitive X-rating in the US.

The film made Schneider a star, although she later accused Brando and Bertolucci of exploiting her. She described the director as “a gangster and a pimp”, likened the experience to being “raped” and said that Last Tango in Paris had taught her an important lesson: “Never take your clothes off for a middle-aged man who claims that it’s art.”

Bertolucci, for his part, appeared puzzled by the criticism. “It is true that Maria was very young when we shot the film and maybe she couldn’t articulate what happened,” he told the Guardian in 2003. “So what remains is a confused moment where I am the killer or the bad guy.”

Following Last Tango in Paris, Schneider went on to star alongside Jack Nicholson in The Passenger, an existential thriller by director Michelangelo Antonioni. But her subsequent career was hindered by drug addiction and mental illness.

Schneider’s other films include A Woman Like Eve, In the Country of Juliets and the acclaimed Aids drama Savage Nights. Her last significant role was the anguished Mrs Rochester in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1996 adaptation of Jane Eyre.

Our bedroom secrets by Sally Bercow – ‘Becoming Speaker has turned my husband into a sex symbol’

Evening Standard – By Rashid Razaq and Tom Harper

She is the outspoken and photogenic wife of the House of Commons Speaker and now Sally Bercow has sparked a Westminster storm after revealing their bedroom secrets – while wearing nothing but a sheet.

The outspoken 41-year-old political activist was inundated with online messages today from her followers on Twitter after the revelations in the Evening Standard. Mrs Bercow told how their living quarters in Speaker’s House had helped spice up her love life with Mr Bercow.

She said: “The view from Speaker’s House is incredibly sexy, particularly at night with the moon and the glow from the old gas lamps.

“When John and I were first courting we used to walk along the South Bank and look at the Houses of Parliament. I never realised how sexy I would find living under Big Ben with the bells chiming.”

In an interview with ES magazine, she added that her 47-year-old husband’s elevation to the ancient office has made him a hit with women.

“Politicians as a breed aren’t particularly sexy but I think politics can be sexy because power is an aphrodisiac,” she said. “Since John became Speaker, the number of women who hit on him has gone up dramatically.

“I don’t get jealous because more men have hit on me, too. I think it’s hilarious that I have been referred to as the Carla Bruni of British politics.”

However Mrs Bercow appeared to be less forthcoming after her photographs and interview became public.

She wrote how she had “died of embarrassment” to her 1,800 followers on Twitter, who include David Miliband and Ed Balls. She added: “Oh bugger. I’ve been done up like a kipper. Mr B is going to go potty,” but went on to say: “Tis a great pic though.”

Mrs Bercow has previously infuriated many MPs with outbursts, prompting them to claim she is undermining the Speaker’s office. Shortly before his election to the post, she admitted enjoying binge drinking and one-night stands in her youth.

Princesse Ghislaine de Polignac (1918-2011)

Mystery of the mummy’s Chinese travel ban

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