February 26, 2010

US Navy SEAL teams to use British mini-sub

Filed under: Britain, Military, Technology, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 12:53

Lewis Page discovers that the latest minisub for the US Navy’s SEAL teams is actually made in Britain:

A groundbreaking new miniature submarine in use by the US Navy’s secretive, elite frogman-commando special operations force was actually designed and built in old Blighty, the Reg can reveal.

We reported first on the S301 mini-sub two weeks ago, noting from federal documents that the famous US Navy SEALs had leased a demonstration model for “doctrinal, operational, and organizational purposes”. This was followed up last week by the Honolulu Advertiser, which had spoken to Submergence Group, the American firm listed by the US government as provider of the S301.

It emerged that the S301 — now in trials with the SEALs in Hawaii — had cost just $10m to develop, which contrasted especially well with the $885m+ spent on the ill-fated Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS).

The ASDS, from US defence behemoth Northrop Grumman, had been intended to supersede the SEALs’ current Mark 8 Mod 1 minisubs, which are carried in a “Dry Deck Shelter” (DDS) airlock docking bay fitted to a full-sized US Navy nuclear submarine — either a normal attack boat or an Ohio-class dedicated Stingray-style special-ops mothership. The Ohios, nuclear missile subs retired from their old job under arms-reduction treaties, have space aboard for a large force of SEALs and pack a powerful armament of conventional-warhead cruise missiles for precision shore bombardment.

Detroit has no problem that the government can’t make worse

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Economics, Government, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 12:11

Detroit has had a rough time lately — if you define “lately” as 50 years. But never fear . . . in spite of depopulation, de-industrialization, urban decay, crime, and soaring rates of illiteracy, the government is going to do something:

From its status as one of the wealthiest communities in the country, with a population of close to 2 million people 50 years ago, it has shrunk to a chaotic, sclerotic mess of 900,000 souls.

So in America, land of the free, the city elders of Detroit are now planning a forced march down Woodward Avenue. Citizens will be relocated from desolate neighbourhoods, their former homes bulldozed.

How will the city get people to move? In some cases, it will invoke eminent domain legislation, that favourite weapon of central planners, and expropriate. In others, it will simply cut off more services as they become too expensive to provide.

Mass state-driven relocation has happened in Communist China, the former Soviet Union, but America? Not since the creation of Native American reservations, and certainly not in 21st century urban areas.

IOC to investigate scandal in women’s hockey: celebration

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Cancon, Sports — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:29

Well, I’m sure the IOC will quickly move to quash the scandalous behaviour of those hooligans on the Canadian women’s hockey team:

The International Olympic Committee will investigate the behaviour of the Canadian women’s hockey players who celebrated their gold medal at the Vancouver Games by drinking alcohol on the ice.

Several Canadian players returned to the ice surface at Canada Hockey Place roughly 30 minutes after their 2-0 win over the U.S. on Thursday night.

The players drank cans of beer and bottles of champagne, and smoked cigars with their gold medals draped around their necks.

Imagine that! Celebrating after winning a gold medal against their arch-rivals. And drinking alcohol, too. And to compound the outrage, they did it on the ice!!!

I’m sure the IOC will do the sensible thing and strip them of their medals. It’s the only logical thing to do, after all. And totally in proportion to the heinousness of their crime.

Even worse, they contributed to the delinquency of a minor:

Among those drinking were Marie-Philip Poulin of Quebec City, the youngest player on Team Canada and its fourth-line centre, who scored twice in the first period. The 18-year-old Poulin turns 19 next month, but right now she would be under the legal drinking age in B.C.

Because nobody in the entire history of the province of British Columbia has ever had the temptation to have a drink before the legal age. Even though in Quebec, “the legal drinking age is just a suggestion”.

Photos of the celebrations below the fold:


Is the Corolla the new Pinto?

Filed under: Economics, Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:12

David Harsanyi examines the different treatment Toyota is getting from the US government (majority owner of the former #1 US automaker):

The Toyota horror is well on its way to transforming the Corolla into the Pinto of the 21st century. Who knows? Perhaps the worst is true about Toyota. Perhaps it is hiding something. Maybe Toyota thought it was infallible. Maybe it is evil. Right now, though you might not know it, it’s all just a bunch of maybes.

There have been to this point 2,600 reported incidents of “sudden unintended acceleration” reported to Toyota — a company that used to sell 9 million cars yearly, most of them in the United States. This yet-to-be defined glitch — maybe a floor mat sticking — has reportedly caused more than 30 deaths.

What we do know is that anyone involved in a Toyota-driven accident now has a scapegoat. And, if they’re smart, a lawyer.

All of a sudden, Toyotas are dangerous. Edmunds.com, which reviewed more than 200,000 complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the past decade, found that Toyota ranked fourth- best among the top 20 automakers in the overall number of complaints per vehicle sold.

General Motors came in six spots lower. Then again, GM is special — or, rather, developmentally disabled. Thus, the U.S. government has the majority stake (with funding extracted from taxpayers) in Toyota’s main competitor. It also has the power to drag the CEO of its chief rival to Washington to nearly badger him into cutting off a pinky in one of those ritual atonement ceremonies.

And while Toyota is being subjected to show trials, what would happen if an American car company had to announce a big recall? No need to wonder:

Then there is the administration. Less than a year ago, Ford — a private, non-government good ol’ American corporation — issued the largest single recall in its long history. A total of 4.5 million vehicles were recalled after it was learned that faulty switches were fire hazards.

At the time, the Obama administration’s overmatched Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood gently prodded customers “to pay attention.” When news of Toyota’s problems began to emerge, before we even knew what it was all about, LaHood told Americans to “stop driving” them. (He later claimed to have misspoke.)

In spite of the media’s best efforts to blacken the brand, I’m still very happy with my Toyota Tacoma. If I had to go and buy another vehicle tomorrow, Toyota would still be my first stop, and would most likely be the brand I’d buy (Honda would be a distant second).

Going hand-to-hand

Filed under: Military, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 08:38

Strategy Page reports on the US Army’s Combatives program:

The army began its Combatives program eight years ago, and it proved so popular that it evolved into a competitive sport. Last September, the fifth annual Army Combatives Tournament was held. There were 318 soldiers competing, organized into 48 teams (organized by units or bases worldwide).

The army has a 40 hour course to teach the basic of Combatives. The U.S. Air Force was so impressed that it developed a 20 hour version of the army Combatives training.

Three years ago, the marines began requiring that everyone qualify for the lowest level belt (tan) of their martial arts (Combatives) program. That goal has proved more difficult than anticipated, but has got marines more focused on hand-to-hand combat. The skills obtained through combatives training have proved to be lifesavers, especially in raids and search operations, where a nearby civilian often turns into a deadly threat on very short notice.

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