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America Is Stuck With a $400 Billion Stealth Fighter That Can’t Fight

Here’s something the public didn’t know until today: If one of the U.S. military’s new F-35 stealth fighters has to climb at a steep angle in order to dodge an enemy attack, design flaws mean the plane might suddenly tumble out of control and crash.

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America Is Stuck With a $400 Billion Stealth Fighter That Can’t Fight

Here’s something the public didn’t know until today: If one of the U.S. military’s new F-35 stealth fighters has to climb at a steep angle in order to dodge an enemy attack, design flaws mean the plane might suddenly tumble out of control and crash.

Also, some versions of the F-35 can’t accelerate to supersonic speed without melting their own tails or shedding the expensive coating that helps to give the planes their radar-evading qualities.

The Pentagon’s $400-billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, one of the biggest and most expensive weapons programs in history, has come under fire, so to speak, over more than a decade for delays, rising costs, design problems and technical glitches.

But startling reports by trade publication Defense News on Wednesday revealed flaws that previously only builder Lockheed Martin, the military, and the plane’s foreign buyers knew about.

The newly-exposed problems underscore the potential fragility of American air power as the armed services work to replace more and more old fighters with as many as 2,300 F-35s while also reconfiguring to confront the increasingly deadly Chinese and Russian air forces.

The problems might also help to explain why acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan reportedly described the F-35 program as “fucked up.”

Defense News obtained military documents detailing a wide range of serious problems with two of the three versions of the F-35. The Air Force’s F-35A appears to be exempt from the latest flaws, but the Marine Corps’ vertical-landing F-35B and the Navy’s carrier-compatible F-35C both suffer what the services call “category 1” deficiencies. (In military parlance, a category 1 flaw in a plane can prevent a pilot from accomplishing their mission.)

The F-35 program and the office of the secretary of defense did not respond to requests for comment.

One problem cropped up during test flights in 2011, Defense News reported, citing the trove of military documents. In the 2011 tests, at least one F-35B and F-35C both flew at speeds of Mach 1.3 and Mach 1.4. A post-flight inspection in November 2011 revealed the F-35B sustained “bubbling [and] blistering” of its stealth coating.

Further supersonic tests in December 2011 revealed structural damage on an F-35C resulting from the extreme heat coming from the plane’s single Pratt & Whitney engine, one of the most powerful fighter engines ever made.

To avoid similar damage, the military has limited F-35B and F-35C pilots to flying at supersonic speed for less than a minute at a time.

But that could make it impossible for aviators to keep up with, or avoid, Russian and Chinese fighters flying faster than the speed of sound without any restrictions. “It is infeasible for the Navy or Marine Corps to operate the F-35 against a near-peer threat under such restrictions,” Defense News paraphrased the documents as saying.

The test reports Defense News obtained also reveal a second, previously little-known category 1 deficiency in the F-35B and F-35C aircraft. If during a steep climb the fighters exceed a 20-degree “angle of attack”—the angle created by the wing and the oncoming air—they could become unstable and potentially uncontrollable.

To prevent a possible crash, pilots must avoid steeply climbing and other hard maneuvers. “Fleet pilots agreed it is very difficult to max perform the aircraft” in those circumstances, Defense News quoted the documents as saying.

The implications are chilling. In a dogfight with a Russian or Chinese jet that can exceed a 20-degree angle of attack, an American flying and F-35 could be at a serious disadvantage.

The revelation of the two performance flaws comes at a critical time for the 18-year-old F-35 program. Pentagon officials plan to declare an end to the testing phase of the F-35’s development sometime in late 2019 and clear the fighter for mass production.

The stealth fighter enjoys strong support from Congress, owing in part to the thousands of jobs the JSF program sustains, albeit at a cost of around $10 billion a year to U.S. taxpayers. In anticipation of a green light for mass production, the Pentagon and Lockheed in early June reached an informal agreement on a $34-billion deal for 470 F-35s.

The Air Force told The Daily Beast it is confident in its own version of the F-35. “Fielding and deployment plans for the F-35 have not changed,” the Air Force’s Air Combat Command said in a statement. “The F-35 plays an essential role in U.S. air combat superiority and we are highly confident in its capabilities and performance.”

The military and Lockheed have identified possible fixes to all the problems Defense News revealed. A new coating could minimize heat damage. Better flight-control software could mitigate the risk of a crash during hard maneuvers. “We expect this item to be resolved or downgraded,” Greg Ulmer, a Lockheed vice president, told Defense News in reference to crash risk.

But if the program doesn’t apply the fixes before F-35 production picks up, it’s possible the deficiencies will become “baked in” on scores or even hundreds of F-35s. Retroactively fixing deficient jets could cost billions of dollars.

To a great extent, the damage is done. Owing to the Pentagon’s controversial decision to manufacture F-35s while still testing them, Lockheed has delivered around 400 early-model F-35s to the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps and to U.S. allies such as the United Kingdom and Israel.

The Air Force, Marines, and Israel have already deployed their F-35s in combat against lightly-armed militant groups.

More than 100 of those early F-35s are B-models that cannot safely fly fast or maneuver hard. They’ll need fixing. It won’t be cheap. The military was already spending billions of dollars modifying older F-35s. That bill could grow to cover the flaws Defense News revealed.

Fixes could take a while. “The services will have to wait five years or more to get a fully functional aircraft, if they ever do,” Dan Grazier, an analyst with the Project on Government Oversight in Washington, D.C., told The Daily Beast.

In the meantime, the armed services possess scores of F-35s they cannot safely send into high-tech combat, according to Grazier. “The program is definitely not ready for active service.”

Entrepreneur, contributor, writer, and editor of Sostre News. With a powerful new bi-lingual speaking generation by his side, Sostre News is becoming the preferred site for the latest in Politics, Entertainment, Sports, Culture, Tech, Breaking and World News.

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Amber Guyger Guilty of Murdering Black Neighbor Botham Jean in His Own Home

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Amber Guyger Guilty of Murdering Black Neighbor Botham Jean in His Own Home

A former police officer who argued she had a right to use lethal force when she killed an innocent man after mistakenly entering his apartment has been convicted of murder.

Amber Guyger faces a lengthy prison sentence after a jury found her guilty of the murder of Botham Jean in Dallas on 6 September last year – a verdict Jean family attorneys hailed as a significant moment in the battle to hold police accountable.

Guyger is white. Jean was black.

Standing in a packed hallway outside the courtroom in Dallas, attorney Lee Merritt told reporters the ruling was “a huge victory not only for the family of Botham Jean, but as his mother, Allison, told us a moment ago, this is a victory for black people in America”.

He said: “It is a signal that the tide is going to change here, [that] police officers are going to be held accountable for their actions.”

Merritt said the community should not have had to wait “on pins and needles” for the conviction of someone who killed a man who was “completely non-aggressive, sitting at home eating a bowl of ice cream and someone barged into his home and shot him to death.”

Botham Jean’s mother Allison Jean in court after the verdict was read out. Photograph: Tom Fox/AP

He added: “This should have been automatic, anticipated, expected, but it is extremely rare. From this day forward we are pushing so that it’s not rare.”

The jury began deliberating on Monday afternoon and reached a verdict on Tuesday morning, with sentencing to follow. Guyger pleaded not guilty. In Texas, murder usually carries a sentence of five to 99 years in prison but judge Tammy Kemp had allowed the jury to consider convicting the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Jurors, however, decided that Guyger had committed murder.

Ben Crump, a lawyer for the Jean family, told NBC local news, said: “Thank God, finally America saw the humanity of an unarmed black man who was killed in an unjustifiable way and they returned a verdict that is befitting the criminal, cowardly act of this woman, killing Botham Jean in his own apartment.”

Crump added in a press conference: “This is a precedent now that will go forth across America for equal justice for everybody.”

He said the incident underscores the need for better police training and that the verdict was for “so many unarmed black and brown human beings all across America” who died in interactions with police.

Amber Guyger Guilty of Murdering Black Neighbor Botham Jean in His Own Home

Jean, a 26-year-old accountant, had settled down on his couch to watch television and eat some vanilla ice cream when Guyger entered his home. She claimed she mistakenly believed it was hers and thought he was an intruder.

Kemp controversially allowed the jury to consider whether Guyger’s conduct could be justified under Texas’s so-called “castle doctrine”. Expanded in 2007, it is comparable to “stand your ground” laws in other states and allows a civilian to use deadly force if he or she “reasonably believes … [it] is immediately necessary” in certain circumstances, such as during a burglary.

Though Jean was on his own property and Guyger the intruder, seemingly inverting the intent of the law, her attorneys argued she made a “mistake of fact” when she went to the wrong home, making her subsequent conduct reasonable. They said she was tired after a long day and many other residents had found themselves at the wrong unit in the past because signage was unclear and floors looked similar.

“She made a series of horrible mistakes,” Toby Shook, one of her attorneys, said. “The law recognises that mistakes can be made.”

Prosecutors said it was “absurd” to believe the 31-year-old’s “commando-style” behaviour was reasonable, especially given her training as a police officer and status as a more than four-year veteran of the department.

They noted that Guyger failed to retreat and call for back-up, questioned the veracity of her claim to have given Jean verbal commands before firing, and pointed out that after calling 911 she appeared to provide only limited medical assistance as Jean, who was from St Lucia, lay dying from a chest wound.

Rather than feeling tired, prosecutors alleged, she was distracted because she had been “sexting” a colleague. Jean had a bright red mat in front of his door that ought to have been impossible to miss.

Guyger – who was fired by Dallas police – wept while testifying.

“I was scared this person inside my apartment was going to kill me,” she said. “I ask God for forgiveness and I hate myself every single day. I feel like a piece of crap.”

In closing statements, Jason Fine, a prosecutor, called most of her testimony “garbage”. Fine said Jean did not act in a threatening manner, but started to stand up “like a normal reasonable person who has somebody busting into his home, and before he can even get up he is shot dead in his own home.

“Killing this man was unnecessary and unreasonable from start to finish.”

Special security measures were put in place during the trial. Jean’s death sparked protests and demands for justice from activists who cited it as one of a long line of racially charged shootings by a police department that lacks accountability. Though she was off duty, Guyger was still in uniform and used her service weapon when she encountered Jean.

Critics of the department have also claimed Guyger was given preferential treatment. It emerged during the trial that the head of the Dallas Police Association told another officer to shut off an audio-visual recording system inside a patrol car so that he could have a private conversation with Guyger soon after the shooting.

She still faces a civil lawsuit brought by Jean’s family.

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Man Dies After Contracting Vibrio from Eating Oysters at North Carolina Coast

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Man Dies After Contracting Vibrio from Eating Oysters at North Carolina Coast

A man is dead after contracting a harmful bacteria from eating oysters on the North Carolina coast, according to family friends.

They say David Argay contracted vibrio in Wilmington, but died Thursday at the hospital.

Argay is from Cary, North Carolina.

Vibrio is a bacteria that lives in saltwater. There are 200 recognized species of marine vibrios but only a few can cause significant problems.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, vibrio infections are associated with eating raw or under-cooked shellfish such as oysters, clams, shrimp and scallops.

The health department did not release details about when exactly Argay ate the oysters or which restaurant served them to him.

Health officials said these types of infections can be prevented by thoroughly cooking seafood or shellfish especially oysters and not exposing open wounds to seawater.

Most infections occur from May through October when water temperatures are warmer.

The CDC reports vibrio causes an estimated 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths a year in the United States.

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Nancy Pelosi Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry of President Trump

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Nancy Pelosi Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry of President Trump

Faced with new allegations against President Trump and administration stonewalling, Democrats have ended months of caution.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Tuesday that the House would begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump, opening a fresh chapter of confrontation in response to startling allegations that the president sought to enlist a foreign power for his own political gain.

“The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution,” she said after emerging from a meeting of House Democrats in the basement of the Capitol. Mr. Trump, she said, “must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”

The announcement was a stunning development that unfolded after months of caution by House Democrats, who have been divided over using the ultimate remedy to address what they have called flagrant misconduct by the president.

In this case, with an avalanche of Democrats — including many who had resisted the move — now demanding it, Ms. Pelosi said that Mr. Trump’s reported actions, and his administration’s refusal to share details about the matter with Congress, have left the House no alternative outside of impeachment. The inquiry has the potential to reshape Mr. Trump’s presidency and to cleave an already divided nation only a year before he plans to stand for re-election.

At issue are allegations that Mr. Trump pressured the president of Ukraine to open a corruption investigation of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, and his son. The conversation is said to be part of a whistle-blower complaint that the Trump administration has withheld from Congress.

Mr. Trump said on Tuesday that he would authorize the release of a transcript of the conversation, practically daring Democrats to try to find an impeachable offense in a conversation that he has called “perfect.” But Democrats, after months of holding back, demanded the full whistle-blower complaint, even as they pushed toward an expansive impeachment inquiry that could encompass unrelated charges.

“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable facts of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Ms. Pelosi said.

In a meeting on Tuesday afternoon, Ms. Pelosi told senior Democrats that the chairmen of the six committees that have been investigating Mr. Trump for various issues would put together their best cases on potentially impeachable offenses by the president and send them to the Judiciary Committee, according to two officials familiar with the conversation. That could potentially lay the groundwork for articles of impeachment based on the findings.

The decision to begin a formal impeachment inquiry does not necessarily mean that the House will ultimately vote to charge Mr. Trump with high crimes and misdemeanors — much less that the Republican-controlled Senate will vote to remove him. But Ms. Pelosi and her leadership would not initiate the process unless they were prepared to reach that outcome.

Ms. Pelosi met privately on Tuesday with the leaders of the six key committees involved in investigations of Mr. Trump, and later huddled with the full Democratic caucus. Her announcement came amid a groundswell in favor of impeachment among Democrats that has intensified since late last week, with lawmakers from every corner of her caucus lining up in favor of using the House’s unique power to charge Mr. Trump if the allegations are proved true, or if his administration continues to stonewall attempts by Congress to investigate them.

More than two-thirds of House Democrats and one Independent have said they now support impeachment proceedings.

The House Judiciary Committee has been conducting its own impeachment investigation focused on the findings of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as well as allegations that Mr. Trump may be illegally profiting from spending by state and foreign governments and other matters. But that inquiry has never gotten the imprimatur of a full House vote or the full rhetorical backing of the speaker, as Democrats remained divided about the wisdom and political implications of impeaching a president without broader public support.

Now, after the revelation of a conversations between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in which Mr. Trump pressed the foreign leader to investigate the Bidens, a cascading flood of Democrats has come out in favor of a formal impeachment proceeding.

The shift in outlook among Democratic lawmakers has been rapid, and could yet still turn away from impeachment if exculpatory evidence comes to light. The developments that have turned the tide began less that two weeks ago, when Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the Intelligence Committee chairman, first revealed the existence of a secret whistle-blower complaint that the intelligence community’s internal watchdog had deemed “urgent” and credible but that the Trump administration had refused to share with Congress.

Democrats have given Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, until Thursday to turn over the whistle-blower complaint or risk reprisal. And they have threatened to subpoena the Trump administration for a copy of the transcript of the president’s call with Mr. Zelensky and other relevant documents after Thursday if they are not shared voluntarily.

There were also indications the whistle-blower might not wait around for the complaint to be disclosed. Democrats said on Tuesday that a lawyer for the whistle-blower had informed the committee his client wanted to speak with the House and Senate Intelligence panels, and had requested directions from the office of the director of national intelligence on how to do so.

Though it has attracted much less fanfare, the Senate Intelligence Committee intends to meet privately with the inspector general and Mr. Maguire later this week to discuss the whistle-blower complaint.

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