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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

After $6 billion, anything to show for it?

Pressure is building on the government outfit created to come up with anti-roadside bomb strategies and tactics to show something concrete for the $6 billion that has been poured into it since 2004.

Pressure is building on the government outfit created to come up with anti-roadside bomb strategies and tactics to show something concrete for the $6 billion that has been poured into it since 2004.

Lawmakers have put out the word that the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization is in jeopardy of forfeiting funds if it doesn’t demonstrate some progress in crafting defenses against the bombs that have killed and maimed thousands of GIs in Iraq and, lately, Afghanistan.

The 2007 wartime supplemental appropriations bill designates another $2.4 billion for the organization, but it also came with strongly worded language demanding the group better account for the billions it already has received and become more responsive to congressional inquiries.

More bad news on the pet food front is coming out in the May issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. A new analysis by scientists in New Zealand has found that there is a lot less of something in many brands of cat food than manufacturers have been claiming — the essential amino acid lysine, which is vital to absorbing calcium and building muscle protein. The report on 20 brands found overestimates of 41 percent to 143 percent for moist cat food and 18 percent to 90 percent for dry food.

Good news:

Though it has the authority to raise the price of stamps again before the end of the year, the U.S. Postal Service told a House hearing last week that it won’t. Instead, it will look for savings as the mail system is overhauled for the first time in 37 years.

The skies are the safest they have been since the National Transportation Safety Board began keeping records 40 years ago. Major airlines and cargo carriers had 31 accidents in 2006 — down more than 20 percent from 2005. Only two of those accidents caused fatalities.

A fierce dogfight is under way between the Air Force and the Army over the robot aircraft that have proved themselves extremely useful in Iraq and are envisioned as a prime method of collecting information in the future.

Essentially, the Air Force says the Army is wasting resources by pursuing its own variety of “unmanned aerial vehicle” instead of using the Air Force’s proven stable of remote-controlled Predator, Reaper and Global Hawk aircraft.

The Army says those drones can’t carry enough Hellfire missiles, and wants to spend $1 billion on 132 Warrior UAVs, which can.

Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii and chairman of a House Armed Services subcommittee overseeing air and land forces, sees the squabble as a power struggle between the services and directed the Pentagon to sort it out.

Seems Argentina and Mexico have dumped lemon juice on us. At least that’s the contention of the Commerce Department, which just accused the two Latin American nations of selling lemon juice at less than fair-market value in the United States.

Acting on a petition by Sunkist Growers of California, Commerce has essentially halted the distribution of lemon juice destined to be used in products manufactured in the United States while it further investigates the matter. Commerce says Mexican producers and exporters have sold lemon juice at as much as 205 percent less than fair value, while those in Argentina have undersold it by as much as 128 percent.

Summer lemonade drinkers need not fret — Commerce says all retail lemon or lemonade drinks are excluded from the suspension.

Sen. Joe Lieberman’s big butt bill is back. The Connecticut Democrat has re-introduced his measure that would make cigarette companies include an environmental warning on all packs imploring smokers to throw their cigarette butts in a trash container and not on the ground. Seems the cellulose acetate filters in the butts decay slowly and can be ingested by wildlife, with dire digestive consequences. Congress didn’t share his concern last session, hence Lieberman’s re-buttal with the Cigarette Litter Prevention Act of 2007.


Scripps Howard News Service correspondent Lee Bowman contributed to this column.

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