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This Obamacare Co-Op Was Supposed to Make Money. Instead, It Lost Over $15 Million.

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This is from The Daily Signal.

My wish is that the next president is not an Establishment Republican so this beast known as Obamacare will finally be destroyed.

A Nevada health insurance provider that received more than $65 million in taxpayer-funded loans from the federal government announced last week that it is discontinuing operations at the end of the year.

The Nevada Health Co-Op will close its doors beginning Jan. 1 because of “challenging market conditions.” The co-op will be the third of the 23 consumer-oriented and operated plans created under Obamacare to shutter.

“It is with deep sadness that based on challenging market conditions, the board made a painful decision to wind down operations of the Nevada co-op at the end of this year,” Stacey Hatfield, a member of the co-op’s board, said in a statement. “Rather than spending resources on next year’s uncertain market, we would rather make sure we protect our current members. This is all about providing the most affordable, effective health insurance and service possible.”

Co-ops were created under Obamacare to foster competition in areas where few carriers offered plans. The Nevada Health Co-Op was created in 2012 along with 22 others serving 26 states. They began providing insurance coverage in 2014, with Obamacare’s first open enrollment period.

The 23 co-ops received $2.5 billion in loans from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to help get off the ground and remain solvent. The federal government awarded the Nevada Health Co-Op $65.9 million in startup loans. It’s unclear whether the co-op will be able to repay the loans.

According to the Nevada Health Co-Op, it enrolled 14,000 consumers in 2014. However, the nonprofit insurer projected it would enroll 33,748, according to a July audit of co-ops from the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general.

The analysis from the Department of Health and Human Services also found that the Nevada Health Co-Op projected that it would make $371,000 in 2014. However, it lost more than $15 million.

“The biggest problem that they’ve got is that they can’t raise the capital they need to sustain initial operating deficits,” Ed Haislmaier, a senior research fellow in health policy at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal. “The government created the nonprofit cooperatives in such a way that there’s just no way for the cooperatives to get access to capital other than a government loan or subsidy.”

The Nevada Co-Op was not the only nonprofit insurer to lose money in 2014. Of the 23 co-ops started in 2012, just one—Maine Community Health Options—was profitable. Additionally, 13 of the 23 co-ops enrolled significantly fewer consumers in 2014 than projected.

“They’re constrained,” Haislmaier said of the co-ops. “It was a badly done attempt to reinvent the wheel with some genius deciding to make it oval instead of round.”

The co-op will continue providing coverage to its customers through the end of the year, but customers will have to purchase coverage from other health insurance companies for 2016. The Nevada Health Co-Op will continue to pay customers’ medical claims.

In addition to Nevada’s nonprofit insurer, two other co-ops created under Obamacare announced they would be discontinuing operations.

Last month, the Louisiana Department of Insuranceannounced that the Louisiana Health Cooperative would be closing its doors at the end of 2015. The Louisiana co-op received $65.8 million in taxpayer-funded loans from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

In March, CoOportunity Health was liquidated after it reported higher medical claims than anticipated. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services awarded CoOportunity with $145 million in loans.

9 Forgotten Survival Lessons From The Great Depression

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Originally posted on TheSurvivalPlaceBlog:

great depression 1

By Rich M – Off The Grid News

Of the many tragedies which have struck our nation through the years, the Great Depression of was the longest lasting and in many ways the most severe.

Few people made it through those trying years without feeling its impact. Millions of families lost jobs and homes, and even those who lost neither one often felt the pinch of hard financial times.

But even in the midst of those trying times, there were those who emerged victorious. Mostly, those were people who did not let the circumstances get them down, but instead sought ways of overcoming it. A large number of today’s well-known corporations were founded in those years, attesting to the indomitable spirits of their founders.

There are many who are saying that we are standing on the brink of the next great depression, and that our national economy is being held…

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Obama’s 6 biggest lies about Iran nuke deal

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This from World Net Daily.

As we all know Obama is a pathological liar.

Exclusive: Chuck Norris exposes major deceptions of president’s agreement.

President Obama has been campaigning for the Iran nuclear deal like he’s running for a third term. But, unfortunately, because of his naivety and lack of experience on foreign policy, he is completely wrong.

Let me highlight six Obama statements about the Iran nuclear agreement that are complete exaggerations.

1) President Obama said, “I’ve had to make a lot of tough calls as president, but whether or not this deal is good for American security is not one of those calls. It’s not even close.”

“Not even close”?

He just said Friday, “the vast majority of experts on nuclear proliferation have endorsed this deal. The world is more or less united …”

But 200 retired generals and admirals completely disagreed as they sent a letter to Congress last week urging lawmakers to reject the Iran nuclear agreement, which they said “would threaten the national security and vital interests of the United States.”

Are we to assume that most of them are not in any respect “experts on nuclear proliferation”? And are we gullible enough to believe that the commander in chief knows more about military strategy and American security than 200 retired generals and admirals?

And what about other notable experts who disagree? As one editorial piece noted: “Michael Hayden, former CIA director; Dennis Ross, longtime Mideast negotiator; Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; David Albright, former nuclear weapons inspector and president of the Institute for Science and International Security; and Olli Heinonen, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s former deputy director general for safeguards, have all expressed reservations about the deal.”

2) President Obama said, “Because this is such a strong deal, every nation in the world that has commented publicly – with the exception of the Israeli government – has expressed support.”

But the Wall Street Journal reported that “Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates – are just as distraught” as Israel about the Iran nuclear deal.

Mishaal al-Gergawi, managing director of the Delma Institute in Abu Dhabi and a prominent Emirati political commentator, explained: “A lot of the Gulf countries feel they are being thrown under the bus. The Gulf thought it was in a monogamous relationship with the West, and now it realizes it’s being cheated on because the U.S. was in an open relationship with it.”

Obama’s “with the exception of the Israeli government” comment is not only a ginormous snub to our greatest ally in the Middle East but an affront to the fact that Israel has been threatened repeatedly with genocide by Iranian leaders.

Jerusalem is 970 miles from Tehran, which is roughly the distance between Washington, D.C., and the islands of the Bahamas – just 50 miles off the Florida coast. If the Bahamas were a hostile state to Washington with a long history of threatening to eradicate the U.S. capital from the planet, do you think anyone in Washington would concede to give the Bahamas nuclear power?

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is absolutely right when he calls the Iran deal a grave travesty and threat for not only Israel but also a “historic mistake for the world.”

He said, “The desire to sign an agreement was stronger than everything else. … Wide-ranging concessions were made in all of the areas which should have prevented Iran from getting the ability to arm itself with a nuclear weapon.”

3) The president initially said International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, inspectors would be allowed to “access any suspicious location” in Iran. He then backpedaled and limited it, saying, “Inspectors will be allowed daily access to Iran’s key nuclear sites. If there is a reason for inspecting a suspicious, undeclared site anywhere in Iran, inspectors will get that access, even if Iran objects. This access can be with as little as 24 hours’ notice.”

But the truth is, Obama’s “anytime, anywhere” inspections is a bunch of smoke-and-mirror sales pitches to get the American public and legislators to buy the agreement.

First, even the president confessed: “And while the process for resolving a dispute about access can take up to 24 days, once we’ve identified a site that raises suspicion, we will be watching it continuously until inspectors get in.”

However, the Wall Street Journal did an investigation into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action released by the Obama administration and it “reveals that its terms permit Iran to hold inspectors at bay for months, likely three or more.”

Now, imagine what a drug dealer could do with a warning 90 days before a law-enforcement raid.

The White House noted: “Right now, Iran has nearly 20,000 centrifuges between their Natanz and Fordow facilities. But under this deal, Iran must reduce its centrifuges to 6,104 for the next ten years.”

Ten years?! That’s two-and-a-half presidential terms or cycles. And we expect the No. 1 terrorist-recruiting Islamic nation in the world to comply and not play a shell game with centrifuges over that 10-year period?

The White House again was wrong when it stated, “International inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will not only be continuously monitoring every element of Iran’s declared nuclear program, but they will also be verifying that no fissile material is covertly carted off to a secret location to build a bomb. … Basically, from the minute materials that could be used for a weapon comes out of the ground to the minute it is shipped out of the country, the IAEA will have eyes on it and anywhere Iran could try and take it.”

So, we are supposed to believe that, despite not being on the ground full-time, the IAEA, will be omniscient and omnipresent so as to detect any movement of any materials at any time outside the country, even though it will fight to get into the country to inspect anything in less than three months? Can you say, pipe dream?!

And if you think the preceding sounds bogus, consider that the Associated Press just discovered a “secret agreement” between the IAEA and the United Nations and reported this about the discovery: “Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors to investigate a site it has been accused of using to develop nuclear arms, operating under a secret agreement with the U.N. agency that normally carries out such work.”

And, to add injury to insult, guess who will pay for those Iran inspectors to investigate their own nuclear facilities? You guessed: the American taxpayers have to pay more than $10 million a year.

Reuters reported, after the IAEA said it has a severe funding shortfall and would need extra monies, the U.S. mission in Vienna said in a statement: “The United States is committed to working with all (IAEA) member states to ensure the agency has the resources it needs to verify Iran’s nuclear-related commitments under the (July 14 agreement).”

The State Department echoed similar sentiment back in April: “The United States is committed to working with other IAEA member states to provide the agency the resources it needs to continue carrying out this [Joint Plan of Action]-related work.”

Imagine: Washington agreeing to force American taxpayers to pay for a rogue and terrorist-funding Islamic republic to inspect its own nuclear facilities while ignorantly hoping it doesn’t develop a nuclear bomb behind our backs.

We really have forgotten Sept. 11.

Write your representatives today and demand they reject the Iran nuclear agreement.

(Next week in Part 2, I will give three more examples of Obama’s misguidance and more evidence that the Iran nuclear agreement is bad news for the U.S. and world, how Iran will continue to build a nuclear bomb despite a signed agreement, and, grievous among all the fallout, even if Congress does not sign an agreement, Iran will still be rewarded with at least $50 billion and up to $150 billion additional revenue to continue to fund terrorism against Israel, the West and the U.S. And Obama agrees it is best. Yes, you read that right!)
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2015/08/obamas-6-biggest-lies-about-iran-nuke-deal/#IeGPVk6ZJpyXxQs2.99

10 Bizarre Warplanes Of World War II

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This is from War History OnLine.

These planes are definitely bizarre.

War creates an urgency unmatched during peacetime. As countries compete to create the next great weapon, engineers sometimes resort to unconventional techniques to create their war machines. Nowhere was this more clear than in the skies of World War II, where intrepid aerospace designers dreamed up some of the most bizarre aircraft in history.

10 Blohm & Voss BV 141

Aufklärungsflugzeug Blohm + Voß BV 141

Photo credit: Bundesarchiv

Early in World War II, the German Air Ministry requested proposals for a tactical reconnaissance aircraft to give intelligence support to army operations. Two companies responded. Focke-Wulf developed a fairly conventional twin-engine aircraft, while Blohm & Voss somehow dreamed up one of the most unconventional aircraft ever created: the asymmetric Bv 141.

While the plane’s asymmetric layout seems like an engineer’s fever dream, it did serve a purpose. By clearing up the right side of the aircraft, the Bv 141 offered an unparalleled field of vision for the pilot and observers, especially to the right and to the front, where the pilot was unencumbered by the huge engine and spinning rotors of a conventional single-engine aircraft.

The design was actually inspired by designer Richard Vogt’s realization that airplanes of the day had inherently asymmetric handling characteristics anyway. With a large engine in the nose, single-engine aircraft experiencedmassive amounts of torque, requiring constant attention to keep them under control. By adopting the unusual asymmetric layout, Vogt aimed to offset that torque, creating a stable reconnaissance platform that handled better than many contemporary aircraft.

Luftwaffe official Ernst Udet loved the plane when he test-flew it, fast-tracking an order for 500. Unfortunately for Blohm & Voss, an Allied bombing raid severely damaged one of Focke-Wulf’s main factories, prompting the government to convert 80 percent of Blohm & Voss factory space to building Focke-Wulf aircraft. With the company’s already tiny workforce being shifted to Focke-Wulf, work on the Bv 141 was halted after only 38 examples were built. All were destroyed during the war.

9 Horten Ho 229

Horten_Ho_229_Smithsonian_rear

Photo credit: Michael Katzmann

Another unusual Nazi project, the Horten Ho 229 was developed near the end of the war, after German scientists had developed jet technology. By 1943, Luftwaffe commanders realized they had made a huge mistake in choosing not to develop a long-range heavy bomber like the American B-17 or the British Lancaster. To fill this role, Luftwaffe boss Hermann Goering issued the “3×1000″ requirement, demanding a bomber that could carry 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lb) of bombs over a range of 1,000 kilometers (620 mi) at a speed of at least 1,000 kilometers per hour (620 mph).

Responding to the requirement, the Horten Brothers began designing a flying wing aircraft (a type of aircraft with no tail or distinct fuselage, like later stealth bombers). During the 1930s, the brothers had experimented with flying wing gliders, which showed superior handling characteristics. Using this experience, the brothers built an unpowered glider design as proof of concept for their bomber. The design impressed Goering, who transferred the project to the aircraft company Gothaer Waggonfaebrik for mass production. With some tinkering, the brothers’ glider was given jet propulsion. It was also reworked as a fighter to respond to the Luftwaffe’s need for emergency fighter aircraft in 1945. Only one prototype was built, which was captured by Allied forces as the war ended.

Initially, the Ho 229 was simply seen as a curiosity. However, when the B-2 stealth bomber entered service with a similar flying wing design, aerospace experts became curious about the Ho 229’s stealth characteristics. In 2008, engineers at Northrop Grumman created a replica Ho 229 based on the surviving prototype, which is housed at the Smithsonian Institute. Using radar frequencies similar to those developed during World War II, it was discovered that the Ho 229 did in fact have stealth characteristics, with a radar signature much smaller than contemporary fighters. Completely unintentionally, the Horten brothers had created the first stealth fighter.

8 Vought V-173/XF5U-1

640px-Vought_V-173

Photo credit: US Navy

Starting in the 1930s, Vought engineer Charles H. Zimmerman began experimenting with disk-shaped aircraft. The first flying model was the V-173 (pictured above), which took to the air in 1942. It had problems with the engine gearbox, but overall proved to be a strong, highly maneuverable airframe that was virtually stall-proof. While his company was churning out the famous F4U Corsair, Zimmerman continued to work on a disk-shaped fighter plane, which eventually became known as the XF5U.

Navy specifications for the new fighter indicate that it was anticipated to far surpass other aircraft available at the time. Using two huge Pratt & Whitney engines, the fighter was expected to reach a high speed of around 885 kilometers per hour (550 mph), with a landing speed as low as 32 kilometers per hour (20 mph). In order to give the airframe strength while keeping the weight down, the prototype was built with a material called Metalite, which consisted of a thin sheet of balsa wood laminated with aluminum. However, the engines experienced numerous problems, and World War II ended before the aircraft could be fully tested.

Vought pursued the project, but by the time it was ready for testing, the Navy had decided to focus on jet aircraft. With the Navy contract gone, Vought attempted to scrap the XF5U, only to find that the Metalite construction refused to be destroyed—dropping a wrecking ball on it only ended with the metal ball bouncing off. After a few more attempts, the airframe finally buckled, and blowtorches were used to burn the rest of it.

7 Boulton Paul Defiant

Mk1_Defiant

Photo credit: RAF

Of all the aircraft on this list, the Boulton Paul Defiant saw the most active service. Unfortunately, that resulted in the deaths of many young airmen. The plane was designed due to a 1930s misunderstanding about how air warfare would develop. British commanders believed that bombers attacking Britain would be largely unescorted and undefended. In theory, a fighter with all of its weapons concentrated in a powered turret would be able to work its way into bomber formations and wreak havoc from the inside. The turret would give a large range of fire while freeing the pilot from the task of gunnery, allowing him to concentrate on putting the aircraft in the optimal firing position.

The Defiant did well on its first sorties, since many unsuspecting German fighter pilots misidentified the plane as the similar-looking Hawker Hurricane and attacked from above or from the rear—perfect firing positions for a Defiant gunner. But Luftwaffe pilots quickly learned to avoid attacking Defiants from behind, instead attacking from below or to the front. With no forward-firing weaponry and poor maneuverability due to the heavy turret, Defiant pilots incurred huge losses during the Battle of Britain. Whole fighter squadrons were nearly lost, and Defiant gunners found it impossible to escape the turret in an emergency.

Although pilots were able to come up with some stopgap tactics, the RAF quickly realized that the turret fighter was not cut out for modern air combat. The Defiant was relegated to night-fighter squadrons, where it had some success sneaking up and destroying bombers flying night missions. The steady airframe also was used for target practice and to test the first Martin Baker ejection seats.

6 Bell YFM-1 Airacuda

Airacuda_Bell_YFM-1B_(15954497507)

Photo credit: SDASM Archives

In the period between World War I and World War II, the various air powers became more and more concerned about the possibility of strategic bombing in the next war. Italian general Giulio Douhet believed that it was impossible to defend against mass bombing, and British politician Stanley Baldwin coined the phrase “the bomber will always get through.” In response, most major powers invested in designing a “bomber destroyer,” heavy fighters designed to intercept bomber formations. The British Defiant proved unsuccessful, while the German Bf-110 was useful in various roles. And then there was the American YFM-1 Airacuda.

The Airacuda was Bell’s first foray into military aircraft design, and it boasted a host of unusual features. In order to give the Airacuda the best chance at destroying enemy aircraft, Bell opted to give it two forward-firing 37-mm M-4 cannons, placed in front of the unusual “pusher” engines and rear-mounted propellers. Each cannon had a dedicated gunner to manually reload its five-round clips. The original plan was for the gunners to actually fire the cannons, using tracer-firing machine guns to help them aim. This was a disaster, and the design was changed to allow the pilot to fire the cannons instead. However, they still had to keep the gunners in order to actually reload the cannons.

With defensive machine gun positions on the main fuselage to discourage side attacks, early military strategists believed that the aircraft would be invincible both in intercepting enemy bombers and escorting B-17s over enemy skies. All of these design elements gave the aircraft a distinct bulbous look, similar to a cute cartoon airplane. The Airacuda was a death machine that looked like it was made to cuddle.

Despite lofty expectations, testing revealed major problems. The engines were prone to overheating and did not deliver enough thrust. Because of this, the Airacuda actually had a slower top speed than the bombers it was supposed to intercept or defend. The unusual gun positions caused more problems, since they tended to fill up with smoke during firing, rendering the job of the gunners impossible. To make matters worse, gunners would be unable to bail out in an emergency, since the propellers right behind themmade escape a death sentence. As a result of these problems, the USAAF only purchased 13 of the aircraft, none of which saw combat service. The remaining airframes were distributed around the country to allow pilots to add the unusual aircraft to their logbooks, and Bell went on to more successful attempts at combat aircraft design.

5 Antonov A-40

A40

Photo via Wikipedia

Although a foreign concept in modern warfare, military gliders were a large part of air strategy in World War II. They were designed to be carried aloft by a tow plane and dropped near enemy territory, allowing supplies and troops to be quickly delivered during airborne operations. Out of all the war’s glider designs, the Soviets produced surely the most unusual: the A-40 flying tank.

Most nations looked for ways to get tanks to the front quickly and efficiently. Airlifting them via gliders seemed worth a shot, but engineers soon learned that tanks are some of the least aerodynamic vehicles in existence. After countless attempts to produce a good system for delivering tanks by air, most nations just gave up. But not the Soviet Union.

In fact, the Soviet Air Force had already recorded some success with airdropping tanks before they developed the A-40. Small tanks such as the T-27 were lifted aboard large transport planes and dropped a few meters above the ground. If the gearbox was set in neutral, the tank would hit the ground and roll to a stop. The problem was that the tank crew had to drop separately, greatly diminishing the combat effectiveness of the system.

The holy grail was to have the tank crew fly the tank to the ground and be in fighting condition within a few minutes. To this end, Soviet planners turned to the ideas of American engineer John Walter Christie, who had originally developed the flying tank concept in the 1930s. With a tank attached to a set of biplane wings, Christie believed that any war would be over quickly, since nobody could defend against a flying tank.

Building on Christie’s work, the Soviets mated a T-60 tank with huge biplane wings and ran the first flight test in 1942 with brave (or insane) pilot Sergei Anokhin at the controls. Although the drag from the tank forced the tow plane to ditch the glider before reaching the goal altitude, Anokhin was able to land smoothly and even drove the tank back to base. While Anokhin gave an enthusiastic report, the concept was ditched after the Soviets realized that they lacked planes powerful enough to tow an operational tank (Anokhin had flown with most of the tank’s weaponry and fuel discarded). Sadly, the idea of a flying tank never got off the ground again.

4 Junkers Ju-287

640px-Modellphoto_Ju287V1_1

Photo credit: Juergen Klueser

As Allied bombing missions undermined the German war effort, Luftwaffe commanders realized that their reluctance to develop any multi-engined heavy bombers had been a huge mistake. As the brass began issuing orders for heavy bombers, most German aircraft manufacturers jumped at the opportunity. This included the Horten Brothers (as mentioned above) and Junkers, who already had experience in creating bombers. Junkers engineer Hans Wocke led the design on arguably the most forward-thinking German aircraft of World War II: the Ju-287.

Engineers in the ’30s realized that an aircraft with a straight wing would have an inherent upper speed limit, but at the time it was of no concern, since propeller engines couldn’t get anywhere close to the limit anyway. However, with the advent of jet technology, everything changed. German aircraft designers used swept wings on early jet aircraft such as the Me-262, which avoided the air compression issues inherent in straight wing design. Wocke took this one step further and proposed an aircraft with a forward-swept wing, which he believed would be able to outrun any air defenses. This new type of wing had many advantages: increased maneuverability at high speeds and high angles of attack, better stall characteristics, and clearing the fuselage for weaponry and engines.

Wocke’s design was originally intended as an aerodynamic test bed, with many of the components taken from other airplanes, including captured Allied bombers. During test flights, the Ju-287 performed excellently, meeting all the proposed performance characteristics. Unfortunately for Wocke, interest in a fast jet bomber waned and his design was shelved until March 1945. By that point, desperate Luftwaffe commanders were searching for any new design that could damage the Allies, and production was quickly started on the Ju-287, only for the war to end two months later after only a few prototypes had been built. It would take another 40 years for forward-swept wings to begin seeing renewed popularity with American and Russian aerospace engineers.

3 Cornelius XFG-1

Cornelius_XFG-1_Fuel_Glider_44-28060_(4972681089)

Photo credit: Bill Larkins

George Cornelius was an engineer known for a variety of eccentric glider and airplane designs. During the ’30s and ’40s, he tinkered with new types of aircraft layouts, including a number of experiments with forward-swept wings (as on the Ju-287). His gliders had excellent stall characteristics and could be towed at high speeds without causing significant drag on the tow plane. When World War II broke out, Cornelius was recruited to design the XFG-1, one of the most specialized aircraft ever produced. In essence, the XFG-1 was a flying fuel tank.

Cornelius planned to have both manned and unmanned versions of his glider, both of which could be towed by contemporary bombers at their cruising speed of 400 kilometers per hour (250 mph), twice the speed most other gliders could manage. In its unmanned form, the XFG-1 was a revolutionary concept. B-29s would tow the unmanned glider behind them with hoses providing fuel transfer to the mother aircraft. With a storage capacity of 764 gallons, the XFG-1 would act as a flying drop tank. As soon as the fuel tank was empty, the B-29 would jettison the glider, which would then drift down to the ground and crash. This system would greatly increase the range of B-29 bombers, allowing raids on Tokyo and other Japanese cities. The manned form was similar, but supposedly less wasteful, in that it allowed the glider to land rather than simply crashing once the fuel was used up, although one has to wonder what pilot would sign up for the task of flying a fuel tank over a dangerous combat zone.

Testing was marred by the deadly crash of one of the prototypes, and the concept fell out of favor as Allied forces captured islands closer to the Japanese mainland. With closer airbases, B-29 missions would not need extra fuel to reach their targets, rendering the XFG-1 obsolete. After the war, Cornelius continued to propose his concept to Air Force commanders, but by that time the focus had shifted toward dedicated air-refueling tanker aircraft. The XFG-1 simply became an obscure footnote in Air Force history.

2 Zveno-SPB

Zveno-2

Photo via Wikipedia

The idea of a flying aircraft carrier was first envisioned during World War I and experimented with during the interwar period. At the time, military engineers dreamed of a large airship with small parasite fighters capable of leaving the mothership to defend it against intercepting enemy aircraft. British and American tests ended in disaster, and the idea was dropped altogether as the diminishing tactical value of large rigid airships became clear.

But just as the British and Americans were discontinuing their experiments, the Soviet Air Force (VVS) was just starting. In 1931, aviation engineer Vladimir Vakhmistrov proposed using large Tupolev bombers to carry smaller fighters into the air. This gave the fighters a significantly increased range and allowed them to carry larger bomb loads than usually possible when configured for dive-bombing. Without the bombs, the fighters would also be able to defend the Tupolevs against enemy interceptors. Throughout the 1930s, Vakhmistrov experimented with various configurations, reaching the point where he was attaching five fighter planes to one bomber aircraft. By the start of World War II, Vakhmistrov had scaled back his ideas to a more practical design with two I-16 fighter-bombers attached to a TB-3 mothership.

Soviet high command was sufficiently impressed with the concept to attempt using it operationally. The first raid against a Romanian oil depot was successful, with both fighters decoupling and conducting the raid before returning to a Soviet forward base. After that initial success, 30 raids were conducted, the most famous of which was the destruction of a bridge near Chernovodsk in August 1941. The Soviets had attempted to destroy the bridge for months with no success until they decided to use two of Vakhmistrov’s monstrosities. Both planes launched their fighters, which proceeded to destroy the previously untouchable bridge. Despite these successes, the Zveno project was shuttered a few months later and the planes were retired when all Soviet I-16 and TB-3 aircraft were removed from frontline service in favor of more advanced designs. Thus ended the career of one of the strangest—yet successful—aviation concepts in history.

1 Fieseler Fi-103R

Neu Tramm, US-Soldaten mit V4

Photo credit: Bundesarchiv

Most people are familiar with the Japanese kamikaze missions, which used older aircraft laden with explosives as anti-shipping weapons. They even designed a purpose-built kamikaze rocketplane called the MXY-7. Less well known is the German attempt to build a similar weapon by modifying V-1 flying bombs into piloted flying missiles.

With the war coming to an end, the Nazi top brass were desperate for a way to disrupt Allied shipping over the English Channel. V-1 rockets had potential, but the need for actual accuracy (never their strong suit) necessitated a manned version. Using existing V-1 fuselages, German engineers were able to install a small cockpit just ahead of the jet engine, as well as very basic controls for the pilot.

Unlike the V-1 rockets, which were launched from the ground, Fi-103R piloted missiles were meant to be carried into the air and launched from He-111 bombers. Once the missile was launched, the pilot would need to visually acquire his target, aim his aircraft at the ship, and then bail out.

Unlike their Japanese counterparts, German pilots would not be sealed into their cockpits and were expected to attempt escaping. However, with a roaring engine directly behind the canopy, bailing out would probably be fatal anyway. These slim chances of pilot survival gave Luftwaffe commanders a bad impression of the program, and no operational missions were ever carried out. However, 175 V-1 missiles were still converted into Fi-103Rs, most of which fell into Allied hands at the end of the war.

 

Immigration and Welfare: What’s a Civilized Nation To Do?

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Originally posted on Gringa of the Barrio:

The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act

August 22, 1996, President Bill Clinton signed into law a welfare reform plan that not only changed things for the nation’s citizens, but also for the nation’s immigrants. Title IV of the bill contained the details on the provisions that affected “aliens”.

Title IV opens with the explanation that the basic principle of United States immigration law is self-sufficiency. With that in mind, it declares that aliens living in the U.S are to depend on their own capabilities, sponsors and private organizations to provide the resources for the needs of their families rather than depend on public resources. Despite these premises, the Act acknowledges the fact that aliens have been receiving public benefits at increasing rates. The legislation explains that this is due to inadequate eligibility standards that do not prevent aliens from enrollment in the public benefits system. One of…

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‘Anti-gun stupidity’: Honolulu destroys $575G worth of police firearms

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This is from Fox News.

  The  Anti-gun stupidity has cost the taxpayers of Honolulu a bundle.

First the guns were bought without any discounts and  the other firearms were destroyed.

The amount of money lost will be more than the $575, ooo dollars the sale would have brought in.

They paid for having them melted down the pay for the disposal of the waste for melting the guns down.

My estimate on the cost for the full price purchase of the new firearms then the melting down of the old firearms and waste disposal could one million dollars or more.

   

Second Amendment advocates are firing away at a decision by Honolulu officials to destroy $575,000 worth of perfectly good handguns in a move one critic called the “height of anti-gun stupidity.”

Some 2,300 Smith & Wesson 9 mm handguns, including at least 200 that are brand-new and in unopened boxes, were issued to the city’s police department. But with the 2,200-member force upgrading to lighter and less expensive Glock 17s, the guns were set to be permanently holstered. While it is customary throughout the country for departments to auction the guns to law-abiding citizens, including the police who once carried them, or donate them to another department, Honolulu opted to destroy them.

  “Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the Honolulu Police Department agreed that they would not allow the guns to be sold to the general public and end up on the streets of Honolulu,” Honolulu Police spokeswoman Michelle Yu told FoxNews.com. “The same goes for selling the individual gun parts that could have been used to assemble a gun.”   

Selling the guns, with mandatory background checks to ensure they were only purchased by legal owners, could have netted the city $575,000, according to Hawaii News Now. Several police officers reportedly were interested in buying old service weapons for personal use, and the department has previously sold phased-out weapons to its staff, but this time opted to melt them down two weeks ago.

Yu said no other police departments were interested in the guns.

“Law enforcement in American Samoa initially expressed interest in acquiring some of the guns, but there was a change in administration and the new administration is no longer interested,” she said. “The local sheriff’s department recently replaced their guns, and other county police departments (Kauai, Maui and Hawaii) are looking to replace their Smith & Wessons in the future.”

A representative for Smith & Wesson declined to comment, stating that the company does not provide any information regarding their customers in law enforcement.

Despite Yu’s claims, the Hawaii state sheriffs division – which uses the same gun manufacturer – told Hawaii News Now that no offer for donation was made to them.

Hawaii’s Department of Public of Safety recently replaced its Smith & Wesson firearms with different SIG Sauer models and received a credit of more than $150,000 for trading in its old guns. But Yu no trade-in discount was available and insisted “the only remaining option was to destroy the guns so they don’t end up on the street.”

Destroying working firearms, as well as valuable taxpayer property, was “the height of anti-gun stupidity and will not stop one criminal from getting a weapon,” said Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation.

“These guns in the hands of lawful civilians could provide an important means of self-defense, especially for low income people who can’t afford them,” Gottlieb said. “Or the sale of them could help pay for much needed law enforcement equipment to help keep the public safe.”

Any city the size of Honolulu could use $575,000, said Amy Hunter, spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action.

“There is no reason why these firearms couldn’t be used by law enforcement or sold to law-abiding citizens, the proceeds of which could go to much-needed infrastructure, programs, training, etc,” she said.

The Hawaii Rifle Association’s President Harvey Gerwig, together with safety training non-profit Lessons in Firearms Education President Bill Richter wrote directly to Caldwell over the issue, emphasizing that “in these times of lean budgets and continual cost cutting to needed city services, to throw away a half a million dollars seems senseless.”

“The reason your office and HPD gave for not selling to the public seemed to be a slight on those legal gun owners who would have purchased them and who supported you during your election,” the letter continued. “You should be ashamed for suggesting that the good citizens of Hawaii cannot be trusted with buying HPD’s surplus guns for fear of them falling into criminal hands when record numbers of firearms have been bought by those same citizens for the last ten years without any such problems.”

Over the last 15 years, the number of guns registered in Hawaii increased dramatically. Data released by the Hawaii Attorney General’s Office shows that 420,409 firearms were registered from 2000 to 2014, in addition to the already existing one million firearms in a state that has an estimated population of 1.4 million.

Hawaii has one of the lowest gun death rates in the nation, which some attribute to its spike in ownership per capita, while others claim it is a result of its strict gun control laws.

Caldwell’s office declined to elaborate on Yu’s comments. The Hawaii Police Officers Union, did not respond to requests for comment.

But while the destruction of the guns generated criticism from the gun rights community, others have welcomed it.

“It beats putting those (guns) back on the streets,” said Ladd Everitt, spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “There are so many loopholes in federal law that dangerous people often get guns legally in this country.

“There’s a reason that Hawaii has the lowest gun death rate in the country,” he added. “They’d rather see guns destroyed than families.”

How a hurricane brought Alexander Hamilton to America

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This is from the National Constitution Center.

I learned something new about Alexander Hamilton.

 

How different would America have been without the hurricane that disfigured the Caribbean island of St. Croix in late August 1772? Without it, Alexander Hamilton may never have emigrated from there to New York City and indelibly shaped this country’s history.

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Hamilton, 17, was a self-taught clerk for a business that traded goods between the French West Indies and America. Despite his lack of formal education, he wrote with precocious verve. In a letter to his father, James Hamilton, young Alexander called the hurricane that arrived on August 31 “a total dissolution of nature” and described it as “sufficient to strike astonishment into angels.”

The letter was then published in the Royal Danish American Gazette. “O ye who revel in affluence see the afflictions of humanity and bestow your superfluity to ease them,” the letter pleaded and moved a group of island businessmen to bestow their blessing on Hamilton. They sent him to North America for a proper education—and a reversal of fortune worthy of a classic fable.

Five years before when he was 12, his mother had died, after his father had abandoned their common-law family (a divorce kept his mother from marrying again). Alexander was effectively an orphan and broke.

Five years later when he was 22, after success at King’s College (now Columbia University), he became an aide-de-camp to General George Washington and, because of the eloquence of his prose, the voice of the general in letters that directed the Revolutionary War.

Hamilton was transformed “from an insecure outsider to a consummate insider,” Ron Chernow wrote in his authoritative biography “Alexander Hamilton,” who excelled at feuding with others who shaped the country: Washington, Madison, Jefferson, and Adams, as well as Aaron Burr who killed Hamilton in a duel before he reached 50.

He was also unbending in pursuing his vision of America as a glorious nation. With Madison, he played a major part in crafting a Constitution calling for a strong national government and helped get it ratified over fierce opposition from many who preferred that the states maintain the upper hand—especially in New York.

“To the People of the State of New York,” Hamilton wrote at the beginning of “The Federalist,” the essays he edited and helped write to overcome the state’s anti-federalist campaign against the Constitution. To Jefferson, they were the “best commentary on the principles of government which ever was written.”

Hamilton helped persuade 13 anti-federalists to change their votes at the last minute. New York narrowly ratified America’s fundamental law, 30 to 27.

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