The US Senate voted decisively on Tuesday to stop producing new F-22 stealth fighters, siding firmly with President Barack Obama in a high-stakes fight over the future of US air power.
Lawmakers debating a US$680 billion defense spending bill voted 58-40 to cut US$1.75 billion set aside to build seven more Raptors, drawing immediate praise from the White House.
“At a time when we’re fighting two wars and facing a serious deficit, this would have been an inexcusable waste of money,” said Obama, whose aides have underlined that the Raptor has not seen action in Afghanistan or Iraq.
“I reject the notion that we have to waste billions of taxpayer dollars on outdated and unnecessary defense projects to keep this nation secure,” said the president, who had threatened to veto the bill if the monies were included.
The Senate vote came after the House of Representatives included the bill in its version of the legislation, meaning lawmakers could revive the program when they reconcile the rival versions in order to send the bill to Obama.
Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel lobbied senators to scrap the funding, trying to quiet concerns of lost jobs if the Lockheed Martin/Boeing-built program is frozen and underlining that the money could be better used elsewhere, Democratic aides said.
Gates had fought to cap production at 187 F-22s, meaning only four more would be built. But many Republicans balked at the administration’s plans.
The Air Force has also long disagreed with halting production, and just last year called for a fleet of 381 fighters.
Last year Gates sacked the service’s two top leaders officially over two major nuclear-related blunders, but his decision was also largely seen as having stemmed from their position on the F-22 program.
In a statement released through a Pentagon spokesman, Gates welcomed the Tuesday vote as “an important step” toward reining in defense spending.
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
A Malaysian student whose cellphone was stolen while he was sleeping has tracked down the culprit: a monkey who took photo and video selfies with the device before abandoning it. Zackrydz Rodzi, 20, on Wednesday said that his mobile phone was missing from his bedroom when he woke up on Saturday. He found the phone’s casing under his bed, but there was no sign of robbery in his house in Johor state. JUNGLE When his father saw a monkey the next day, he searched in the jungle behind his house. Using his brother’s cellphone to call his own device, he found it covered
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after