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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Growing Corruption of the Obama Administration

“Whoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce.” — President James A. Garfield

As President Obama continues to drop in the polls more and more evidence of the corruption and crony capitalism of his administration are emerging on almost a daily basis. Not since Warren Harding’s administration’s Tea Pot Dome Scandal of 1922-1923 has an administration been so involved in using the taxpayer’s money to pay off their financial supporters. Not since Richard Nixon’s loyalists use of the government to establish an enemy’s list has an administration so blatantly attacked those who do not support Obama’s policies.

Obama’s green jobs policies have failed at every level and he continually pushes for more money to be poured into his favorite companies. He has picked winners and losers in the marketplace with his bailout of General Motors and Chrysler. He has requested a serving four star air force general and head of the U.S. Space Command to alter his testimony before a congressional committee regarding the dangers to our national security and economy from a company he has invested $90,000 in. He has continual brought his Chicago politics to the White House while telling Americans to pay their fair share and he promotes his politics of class warfare.

The latest developments in the case of the bankruptcy of Solyndra are emerging almost daily as the FBI and Congress begin to investigate the details surrounding the misuse of $530 million dollars of taxpayer’s money.

Fox News reports that Solyndra executives will plead the Fifth Amendment at Congressional hearings:

“Executives with the bankrupt solar energy firm at the heart of a widening federal controversy plan to plead the Fifth when they head to Capitol Hill for a hearing Friday.

A statement Tuesday from California-based Solyndra said CEO Brian Harrison and Chief Financial Officer Bill Stover have informed members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that they will not be able to provide "substantive answers" to lawmakers' questions due to the ongoing Justice Department probe.

"Present circumstances require both gentlemen to exercise their Fifth Amendment rights in the face of questioning that might occur," the company said.

Republican committee leaders blasted Solyndra executives for "breaking an agreement to voluntarily testify."

"Who exactly are Solyndra's executive trying to protect and what are they trying to hide?" said Reps. Fred Upton, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Cliff Stearns, chairman of the Investigations Subcommittee.

The company's statement said both executives were following the advice of counsel, but it also continued to defend the firm's actions. The company came under scrutiny after filing for bankruptcy despite receiving nearly $530 million in federal taxpayer-backed loans. “

In the second emerging example of Obama’s Chicago pay-for-play politics at report in the Daily Beast claims that a second government official was requested to alter his testimony regarding LightSquared’s attempt to develop a broadband network that would interfere with our space-based global positioning system:

“Anthony Russo, director of the National Coordination Office for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing, told The Daily Beast he rejected “guidance” from the White House’s Office of Budget and Management suggesting he tell Congress that the government’s concerns about the project by the firm LightSquared could be resolved in 90 days, a timetable favorable to the company’s plans.

“They gave that to me and presumably the other witnesses,” Russo said. “There is one sentence I disagreed with, which said that I thought the testing could be resolved in 90 days. So I took it out.”

Russo said he objected to that language because “I have low confidence that we can complete all of the testing in 90 days.” He estimated that such testing would take at least six months. Russo called the White House efforts to alter his testimony “guidance rather than pressure.”

Russo’s comments come just days after four-star Air Force Gen. William Shelton, who heads U.S. Space Command, told Congress in a classified briefing that he felt pressured by the White House to change his testimony about the same project to make it more favorable to the company.”

In the LightSquared case, the billionaire backer of the company, Phillip Falcone, has rejected claims that he used White House connections to interfere with a Pentagon commander's testimony on Capitol Hill last week. He told Megyn Kelly of Fox News it was "absolutely false" to claim he obtained written testimony in advance.

Air Force Gen. William Shelton had told a House subcommittee that theGPS in flight network could interfere with critical GPS systems used by the military. But Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, later told Fox News that Shelton confided that he thought the testimony had been leaked, and that he rebuffed requests to soften it.

While the Solyndra scandal involves millions in taxpayer’s money going down the Obama’s rat hole of green jobs the blossoming LightSquared scandal can affect our national security and billions of dollars in our economy not to mention each of us on a personal basis.

LightSquared claims to have a 10-cent fix yet no one in the GPS industry has yet to see it. Fox News reports:

The billionaire backer of a controversial new wireless technology said a fix is in the works for the signal overlap issue that may effectively render GPS useless -- a possibility that the Air Force, police and others have called a dangerous threat to our nation's security.

LightSquared backer Philip Falcone told that issue lies in the GPS satellites themselves, which were designed to use a specific wedge of bandwidth but sloppily spill out and "listen in" on nearby signals. That wasn't an issue 20 years ago; today it limits LightSquared's ability to create a new high-speed wireless data network.

But a 10-cent filter can fix the 40,000 military devices at risk, Falcone said -- something that should be done whether or not LightSquared is the problem.

"Quite frankly, if we interfere with public security, we should be fixed. And quite frankly, we don't," Falcone told Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.

"That potential interference is down to a minimum, and that minimum is going to be fixed with some things we have done in the marketplace," Falcone said, promising to unveil this week a new solution to the GPS interference.

Will it be the 10-cent filters? Limited use of the available spectrum, another option LightSquared has suggested? A simple software patch? Falcone wouldn't say which it was, but offered a bit of clarity.

"These fixes are technology issues, not physics issues," Falcone told Fox News.”

But the GPS Industry and users disagree:

"It's a physics issue," said Ted Gartner, a spokesman for GPS manufacturing giant Garmin.

"LightSquared has been talking about the 10-cent filter ever since the issue came up," Gartner told "We've asked to see it. we've asked to test it. And lo and behold, it has never appeared."

"By all accounts, it does not exist," he said.”

In dramatic, eye-opening testimony before the House Armed Services Committee last week, General William Shelton, head of Air Force Space Command, detailed the results of tests from earlier this year intended to precisely quantify the effect of LightSquared's forthcoming network on GPS.

"Aviation receivers operating as far as 7.5 miles from LightSquared transmitters completely lost GPS and were degraded out to distances of more than 16.5 miles," Shelton said. "High precision GPS receivers such as those used for surveying and geological study requiring precise measurements were adversely affected out to 213 miles and totally lost GPS out to 4.8 miles."

Shelton noted that the State of New Mexico believes the LightSquared network could "jeopardize 911 and public safety."

As a practicing professional land surveyor for 55 years and a pioneer in the use of GPS for geodetic, land and construction surveying I am fearful that LightSquared broadband network will destroy the use of GPS in surveying and navigation.

Today the general public accepts GPS as a common utility. You have GPS navigation in your automobile and cell phones. Military and commercial aviation rely on GPS for air traffic control and safety. Ships entering our harbors and ports use GPS to navigate the ship channels saving millions of dollars in time and possible damage to the ships each year. Truckers use GPS not only for navigation but to track their shipments. GPS is used to monitor ground subsidence and geological activities. All of these uses require precision GPS that can determine geographic position and elevation to within centimeters.

As the person who co-authored the National Height Modernization Program for the National Geodetic Survey and Congress I know how important precision GPS is to our national security, safety and economy.

Robert D. Towery, the Chief City Surveyor for the City of Houston wrote:

“Part of my responsibility as the City Surveyor of Houston is the City's active CORS [Continuous Operating Reference Sations]. Houston is not a stable enough place that benchmarks don't move, so GPS is realistically our only reliable, cost effective method for providing control, referencing surveys, our basis for GIS, and relating to the flood plain. We could go back to our old system, hard point monuments that become unreliable after a few years, (the earth moves under us here), at a projected cost of more than $50 million, just to cover our current City Limits and an annual budget of $5 million, to re-observe and adjust monuments in high subsidence areas. When I came to work for the City, we had 53 different datum sources and adjustments. You literally could not get there from here, the adjustments were area-specific, crossing out of a specified area of adjustment into another caused never-ending sources of trouble for City projects. Going back to that nightmare is just too horrifying to think of.”

Marc Cheves, the editor of American Surveyor Magazine wrote in a recent editorial:

“The LightSquared issue refuses to go away. After the presentations by LightSquared and the Coalition to Save Our GPS at the Survey Summit in July, it seemed that if LightSquared stayed in the lower band of the two bands adjacent to GPS, its plan might work. Since then, it has become apparent that even that band is unacceptable. Here's the situation: the bands that LightSquared is seeking to use have always been reserved for space-based transmissions. Because LightSquared has convinced the FCC to allow it to make terrestrially-based transmissions, the problem becomes one of signal strength. Signals from space have been described as whispers, and the GPS manufacturers have done a marvelous job of extracting useable information from these weak signals, even being able to sort out GPS signals from signals that are millions of times stronger. LightSquared, with its terrestrial scheme, broadcasts signals that are billions of times stronger than GPS. The bottom line for us is that we simply cannot coexist with LightSquared in bands that are adjacent to the GPS signals.

To support this, the National Space-based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Advisory Board finally weighed in with the following: We strongly recommend that the Commission rescind its conditional wavier and not allow a change in the structure of the MSS band that abuts GPS to allow transmissions that interfere with GPS. Another frequency band must be found, well away from GPS that allows LightSquared to compete with the other broadband suppliers and does not jeopardize US infrastructure, imposing unnecessary costs to the many millions of current GPS users.

To make matters worse, collusion in the highest places seems to be the order of the day according to an Inside GNSS article which states "...political influences, driven by Harbinger's billions and the president's desire to lift up expansion of wireless broadband as a feature of his re-election campaign..." This is not the first time the FCC—an agency that apparently answers to no one—has been accused of being susceptible to undue influence. Once again, it appears that the FCC has been co-opted by political and financial interests.”

In a statement issued by the Coalition to Save Our GPS it is stated:

We are astonished to hear that Phil Falcone, head of the New York hedge fund that controls LightSquared, believes that LightSquared is being “stonewalled,” apparently by the “GPS industry.” It seems that Mr. Falcone gives no credence to a four star general of our armed forces, the commander of the Air Force Space Command, when he testifies under oath before Congress that, ‘In summary, based on the test results and analysis today, the LightSquared network would effectively jam vital GPS receivers. And to our knowledge thus far, there are no mitigation options that would be effective in eliminating interference to essential GPS services in the United States.’ When questioned about costs, the general responded, ‘We have not estimated cost. However, I think it'd be very safe to say that the cost would be in the b's – billions of dollars.’

“At this point, there is apparently nothing that can convince Mr. Falcone that there are legitimate concerns over interference from GPS – even though every major government agency and every affected company other than LightSquared is on record that its proposal will cause substantial and harmful interference to critical uses of GPS. How LightSquared didn’t know this all along, and how it can continue to suggest that it is simply stonewalling to raise these concerns, is beyond comprehension.

“In fact, LightSquared said at the outset of this process that it had a plan that would not interfere with GPS signals. Comprehensive testing organized by the FCC showed that its first plan would cause devastating interference to GPS. A second plan was discarded for the same reason. LightSquared is now on its third plan and just last week both the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the president’s principal adviser on spectrum policies, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), concluded that more testing is needed to determine whether that third plan adequately addresses interference issues.

“It’s time for LightSquared to stop its glossy ads, irresponsible rhetoric, revisionist history and finger pointing, and provide genuine, fully- tested solutions to the GPS interference problem. LightSquared has always been prohibited from interfering with GPS, and it should have done its homework on this critical issue before spending its investors’ money. It is not the fault of government GPS users or the GPS industry that LightSquared has failed to offer proposals that actually solve the problem. LightSquared must accept the responsibility to provide technical proposals that do resolve the problem, as well as its financial responsibility to address any interference issues that it cannot resolve by technical proposals.”

The general public does not know how much the use GPS plays in our national security and economy today. From the guidance system in a smart bomb launched from a Predator Drone at a terrorist hideout to a fisherman marking the location of his favorite fishing spot GPS is used every day by millions of Americans in their daily lives. It is used by trucking companies to track the location of the item you purchased online and by construction firms to control their earth moving equipment. GPS is used by the aviation industry for navigation and to insure safe all weather landings at airports where the cost of ground-based radar and ILS equipment is too expensive. It is used by emergency first responders to get an ambulance to the house of a person suffering a heart attack as quickly as possible. GPS is used by land surveyors to survey roads, bridges, damns, sewer systems, and land development projects as half the cost of traditional methods. GPS is even used by photographers to mark the locations of their travel photos for Google Earth and Flicker. GPS is a national utility.

As Marc Cheves said; “What a sad legacy if high precision GPS works everywhere else in the world except in the United States. Didn't we pioneer, design, build, pay for, and continue to operate this wonderful system? There will be high precision GPS in Syria, Libya, Iran, Pakistan, etc. — everywhere but here.”

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