Friday, May 27, 2011

JFK Worried Moon Mission Was a 'Stunt,' New Tapes Show

The space program is one of President John F. Kennedy's great legacies but he privately fretted that putting a man on the moon was not much more than a "stunt," according to a secretly recorded Oval Office conversation finally going public Wednesday. "But this looks like a hell of a lot of dough to go to the moon when you can go -- you can learn most of that you want scientifically through instruments and putting a man on the moon really is a stunt and it isn't worth that many billions," Kennedy told James Webb, the head of NASA, on Sept. 18, 1963, just over two months before the president was assassinated in Dallas.
The tape is being released on Wednesday's 50th anniversary of Kennedy's speech to Congress in which he set out a moon landing as a goal to be achieved within the decade. The May 25, 1961, address came soon after Alan Shepard Jr. became the first American launched into space on May 5, 1961, following a similar Soviet feat on April 12, 1961.
But much of the patriotic fervor about space, fueled by Cold War competition with the Soviet Union, had dissipated by late 1963, at least in the mind of Kennedy, who was seeing huge expenditures as a political negative. The tape of his conversation with Webb is being released by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum on its website.
Some historians have argued that Kennedy was trying to find a way out, especially as he prepared for a 1964 reelection campaign where cost, and the lack of significant progress, could become an issue. The conversation underscores his qualms but also his ultimate attempt to stay with the program while casting it in a different light, perhaps as function of defense or national security needs, not solely the prestige of feats in space.
Webb, whose comments prove prescient, makes a thoughtful case for persisting and for the ultimate scientific and intellectual benefits. But he makes clear that, even if Kennedy wins reelection, we would not be landing on the moon before a second term ended, seemingly disappointing Kennedy, whose voice drops at Webb's cautionary note. Ultimately, Neil Armstrong became the first to set foot there on July 20, 1969.
Kennedy grouses that he will be forced to defend the program during the upcoming campaign when "we won't have had anything for a year and a half." And he's clearly disappointed when Webb tells him that we may "fly by" the moon during a second Kennedy term but not land.
Webb diplomatically challenges the president's assumption of sharply diminished public interest. And as the conversation goes on, Kennedy turns pragmatic and wonders less about the program's utility than he does how he might repackage selling it.
"But it seems to me what we've got to try and do is for the reasons you suggested: we've got to wrap around in this country a military use for what we're doing and spending in space. If we don't, it does look like a stunt and too much money," Kennedy declares.
"If we can show that that's true but there's also a very significant military use. Now how are we going to do that?"
Near the end Kennedy concedes, "I think this can be an asset, this program. I think in time, it's like a lot of things; this is mid-journey and therefore everybody says, 'What the hell are we making this trip for?' But at the end of the thing they may be glad we made it." Through the chat, Webb makes the case for staying the course and assured, "You're going to have both science and technology appreciating your leadership in this field. Without a doubt in my mind. And the young, of course, see this much better than in my generation."
"And I predict you are not going to be sorry, no sir, that you did this."

Dancing with Mr. Jefferson

Less banger for your buck: The Memorial Day BBQ will cost you 29% more this year thanks to inflation

Last updated at 1:49 AM on 26th May 2011

Lack of sausage: Due to inflation the annual Memorial Day BBQ bash may be a meagre affair this weekend
Lack of sausage: Due to inflation the annual Memorial Day BBQ bash may be a meagre affair this weekend
One sausage or two? 
You may be lucky to get half at this weekend's Memorial Day cookout, which is set to cost 29 per cent more than last year, thanks to inflation.
Those thinking of hosting a BBQ - even a modest one - can expect to fork out an extra $45 on food to serve a dozen guests.
The total cost comes to $199, or around 29 per cent more than last year... and that's before soda and alcohol, according to the latest data for metro New York.
Lettuce has sky-rocketed 28 per cent since last year's traditional BBQ, while an ear of sweet corn is now 50 cents, up from 20 cents last year.
Those who don't like tomatoes are in luck though: they're up a staggering 86 per cent on last year.
Nationwide the story is the same. 
Ground beef is up 12.1 per cent on last year and sausages are up 6.2 per cent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And don't even think about potato salad. The apple of the ground is up 13.4 per cent.
Ice cream is up 5.1 per cent, beer up 2.4 per cent and coffee has increased by 13.8 per cent nationwide.
The ever increasing price of gasoline is being blamed for the hike in food prices. Over the past year the cost of gas has increased by 33.6 per cent, along with similar diesel hikes nationwide.
Steady rise: The price of ground beef has risen in the past year spiking last month with a 13.6 per cent increase
Steady rise: The price of ground beef has risen in the past year spiking last month with a 13.6 per cent increase
Extra expense: The cost of sausages has also risen, spiking last month with a 8.6 per cent rise
Extra expense: The cost of sausages has also risen, spiking last month with a 8.6 per cent rise
This is squeezing the food industry to the max and farmer and food markets are being forced to pass on their growing costs to consumers at the fastest pace in several years, according to analysts. 
Growers are also abandoning their usual crops of grains and vegetables in favour of acres of corn for ethanol in gas blends. 
A record 43 per cent of the U.S.' corn crop went into gas tanks in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Costing the earth: The price of potatoes has also increased over the last year with a high of 13.4 per cent in April
Costing the earth: The price of potatoes has also increased over the last year with a high of 13.4 per cent in April

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US Politics of Fear

$500 Million Obama Administration Program Will Help Kids 'Sit Still' in Kindergarten – Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told on Wednesday that the administration's new $500 million early learning initiative is designed to deal with children from birth onward to prevent such problems as 5-year olds who "can't sit still" in a kindergarten classroom.
“You really need to look at the range of issues, because if a 5-year-old can’t sit still, it is unlikely that they can do well in a kindergarten class, and it has to be the whole range of issues that go into healthy child development,” Sebelius said during a telephone news conference on Wednesday to announce the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge.

Sebelius and Education Secretary Arne Duncan jointly announced the $500-million program, which will provide competitive grants to states to address issues affecting educational outcomes for children from birth to age 5.
On the conference call, asked: “What were the current problems that were found with the health, social and emotional development for children ages birth to 5?”

Fed's secret loans to banking giants revealed

Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and Royal Bank of Scotland each borrowed at least $US30 billion ($29 billion) in 2008 from a Federal Reserve emergency lending program whose details weren't revealed to shareholders, members of Congress or the public.
The $US80 billion initiative, called single-tranche open-market operations, or ST OMO, made 28-day loans from March through December 2008, a period in which confidence in global credit markets collapsed after the September 15 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings.
Units of 20 banks were required to bid at auctions for the cash. They paid interest rates as low as 0.01 per cent that December, when the Fed's main lending facility charged 0.5 per cent.

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TSA Thug Grabs Crotch of Injured Vet

One more reason why this odious federal agency should be abolished
TSA Thug Grabs Crotch of Injured Vet 270511top
Paul Joseph WatsonPrison
Friday, May 27, 2011
Two injured US military veterans traveling to a ceremony to honor the lives of fallen friends who gave their lives to protect the rights enshrined in the Constitution were harassed by TSA thugs, with one of them having his crotch grabbed, according to David Bellow, an Army National Guardsman and a State Republican Executive Committeeman.
“One of the wounded warriors, a friend of mine who personally told me what happened, has bullet fragments in his leg. The other wounded warrior has shrapnel in his face,” wrote Bellow on the Texas GOP Vote website.
The TSA agents responded to the men having set off metal detectors by interrogating them about what they were hiding in their bodies. “What are you hiding in your face?” screamed one.
“My friend told me that one TSA agent came up to him and asked what he was hiding in his leg, but before my friend could answer he said that the TSA agent grabbed him, without notice, right in the crotch area as if trying to find something hidden,” writes Bellow.
When the TSA goon grabbed his crotch and didn’t let go, the veteran felt inclined to lash out violently but was somehow able to control his fury.